SPORTS DAY: Zambia draw is a ‘wake-up’ call for Banyana
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
History beckons for Banyana Banyana
Banyana Banyana’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) semifinal against Mali on Tuesday is their final‚ SA coach Desiree Ellis said after her team progressed past the group stage with a 1-1 draw against Zambia on Saturday night. Ellis was quite critical of her charges’ performance against Zambia at the Accra Sports Ground in the Ghanaian capital‚ saying it was a “wake-up” call for her team. The result saw SA avoid Cameroon in the semifinals by finishing top of Group B on seven points. Nigeria‚ 6-0 winners against Equatorial Guinea in Cape Coast‚ took second spot. A win against Group A runners-up Mali in Cape Coast will not just put Banyana into Saturday’s final‚ but also see them reach what they have said is their primary goal at the Awcon of qualifying for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Boks have made progress despite 7 defeats: Kolisi
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi believes his team have made progress in 2018 despite finishing the season with a 50% winning ratio. The Springboks slumped to a seventh defeat in 14 Tests this year when losing 20-11 against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. After back-to-back wins over France and Scotland following an unlucky 12-11 loss to England in their tour opener‚ the Boks were always playing catch-up against Wales and were simply not good enough to win. “We are making progress and although we are nowhere near where we want to be‚ we are heading in the right direction‚” Kolisi said in Cardiff. “However‚ we have to become more consistent because you cannot win two or three matches and then lose the next few – you have to pitch up for every Test and that’s what we will have to strive for.”
Giants beat Spartans by seven runs
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants beat the Tshwane Spartans by seven runs (D/L method) in their rain-interrupted Mzansi Super League (MSL) match at Centurion on Sunday afternoon. When the umpires ordered the players off the field due to lighting that was soon followed by persistent rain after 5.1 overs‚ the Spartans were stranded on 35/3 after they lost Gihahn Cloete‚ Tony de Zorzi and talisman AB de Villiers in quick succession. The Giants completed their innings and reached 143/9 in their 20 overs. The Spartans still needed 109 runs in 89 balls when play was stopped and the match was ultimately abandoned.
Blitzboks show off depth for Dubai
After using 28 players during the 2017/18 campaign‚ Blitzbok coach Neil Powell has built impressive depth to cover for several key injuries as the new seasons comes sharply into focus. The 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai next weekend‚ a venue where the Blitzboks have enjoyed success in recent years including winning 2017’s season opener. The uncapped Impi Visser is an SA Sevens Academy graduate who will make his Blitzbok debut in the Emirate next weekend while old heads such as Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez are back in the squad after injuries cut last season short for them. The exciting Muller du Plessis is also included in a squad missing veteran Cecil Afrika through injuries and others such as Kwagga Smith‚ Dylan Sage‚ Seabelo Senatla and Ruhan Nel‚ who are all focusing on 15s.
Embattled Solinas apologises to Chiefs fans
Embattled Italian Giovanni Solinas struggled to find the right words to express his emotions after his ailing Kaizer Chiefs side succumbed to a third defeat this year to bitter rivals Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in an exciting Telkom TKO semifinal on Saturday. The visibly distraught Solinas took almost 30 seconds to compose himself after Justin Shonga’s 84th minute goal saw Pirates march to the TKO final after a 2-1 win. “I feel pain‚” were the first words uttered by Solinas here. “We lost the derby again but we tried to fight to the last seconds and we created two chances towards the end of the game‚” he said after a third defeat to Pirates in the same year. “We were unlucky not to score and sometimes football is about taking chances. If we had scored the last chance maybe we could have won it in the extra time or penalties.”
Teams lace up rainbows for hate crime victim
International rugby players, including New Zealand’s World Cup-winning All Blacks, have taken to the field wearing rainbow laces in a show of support for former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, who was recently victim of a homophobic attack. Stadiums across Britain were awash with rainbow flags on Saturday as fans also rallied behind Thomas during rights group Stonewall’s annual Rainbow Laces campaign aimed at stamping out homophobia in sport. “I wish I could put in words what this means,” Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009 and retired in 2011, said on Twitter. Referees officiated premiership rugby matches in a specially designed kit that incorporated rainbow stripes.
Sane salutes ‘unbelievable’ Sterling
Leroy Sane hailed Raheem Sterling as “unbelievable” on Saturday after the England winger inspired Manchester City to a 4-0 rout of West Ham. Sterling was unstoppable at the London Stadium as Premier League leaders City racked up their eighth successive win in all competitions. He set up the opening goal for David Silva and tapped in the second himself with a cool finish from Sane’s cross. Germany international Sane netted after being set up by another Sterling assist as City raced into a 3-0 lead before half-time. It was a ruthless display from the champions and all the more impressive coming off the back of a two-week international break.
King Kohli steers India to victory
Captain Virat Kohli smashed an unbeaten 61 to steer India to victory with two balls to spare in the third and final Twenty20 against Australia on Sunday, ensuring the series ended all square. The prolific batsmen lived up to his reputation, coming in when the two openers fell in quick succession after an entertaining 68-run partnership to prevent Australia earning bragging rights ahead of their four Test series starting next month. The home team won a nailbiting and rain-affected first match in Brisbane by four runs, with the second in Melbourne abandoned due to persistent showers. “I thought overall skill-wise we were better today,” said Kohli. “When our openers get into the zone they are difficult to stop. There were a few nervous moments in between, but (for me) it’s always easy when the guys at the top do what they do.”
Neymar, Mbappe could be fit to face Liverpool
Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said his two star forwards in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could be fit to face Liverpool in the Champions League. The pair were injured on international duty and missed PSG’s 1-0 league victory over Toulouse, but Tuchel said Saturday that he is hopeful they can both feature in what could prove to be a must-win tie for the French club against the Reds on Wednesday. “They’re getting better every day, we have time before now and Wednesday. It’s good for us. I think they’ll be able to play,” the German told television programme Telefoot on TF1.
Rai holds off Fitzpatrick for Hong Kong Open win
Aaron Rai held off a hard-charging Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim the Hong Kong Open by a solitary shot and secure his first European Tour win in pouring rain at Fanling Golf Course on Sunday. The Englishman needed all of his six-shot overnight lead to edge out compatriot Fitzpatrick as the 23-year-old’s 17-under par total, courtesy of a one-under par final round, secured him victory in the first event on the 2019 European Tour calendar. Fitzpatrick put Rai under pressure throughout the final day’s play as he emerged from the chasing pack to hit a six-under-par 64 to finish five shots clear of third-placed pair Jason Scrivener of Australia and Frenchman Victor Perez.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE