SPORTS DAY: Show us the Mali, say high-flying Banyana
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
Banyana on verge of World Cup spot
Past disappointments will serve as a major motivator for Banyana Banyana when they tackle Mali in the semifinals of the African Women’s Championship on Tuesday‚ with the side seeking to book their ticket to the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France. Banyana need to finish in the top three in Ghana to seal a first ever World Cup appearance and have come desperately close in the past only to fall short. “We have been talking about this and now it is time to really‚ really walk that talk‚ for everyone‚” said coach Desiree Ellis. “Mali will not be easy‚ they knocked out the hosts [Ghana] and ran Cameroon close. They have had an extra day’s rest too.” Cameroon play Nigeria in the other semifinal. Contrasting challenges for former champions
Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns are among five former CAF Champions League trophy-holders in action in the first series of 2018/2019 season matches this Tuesday and Wednesday. Damage limitation will top the agenda of Light Stars when the Seychellois club visits Soweto to face SA Premiership leaders Pirates. The previous time the Indian Ocean outfit came to SA they suffered a six-goal hiding from Wits in the Confederation Cup. Pitso Mosimane believes the physicality of the Leones Vegetarianos (Vegetarian Lions) from Equatorial Guinea could trouble Sundowns.
Laporte to show France what they’re missing
Aymeric Laporte may still be trying to win the confidence of France coach Didier Deschamps, but as Manchester City travel to Laporte’s homeland to face Lyon on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola’s trust in the centre-back is indisputable. Having had a full summer under Guardiola’s orders in pre-season as he missed out on Deschamps’ World Cup-winning squad, Laporte has become the stalwart of a City defence that has conceded just eight goals in 19 games.
Game too ‘demanding’ for Ozil, says Emery Mesut Ozil’s relationship with Arsenal boss Unai Emery is again under scrutiny after the Spaniard appeared to suggest Sunday’s match at Bournemouth was too “demanding” for the German. Emery decided Ozil’s style did not fit with Bournemouth’s robust approach. “We thought ‘how we can do better in the match’, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity,” Emery said following the 2-1 win for Arsenal, when asked why Ozil had not started.
Dyantyi scoops top award
Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi won the Breakthrough Player of the Year award at World Rugby’s annual prize giving in Monaco on Sunday night. The 24-year-old was visibly stunned when named in a category where he was pitted against Ireland wing Jordan Larmour of Ireland and All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe. “I’ve been truly blessed in so many ways‚ with the people around me‚ who have helped me in the last few years – it’s really amazing‚” Dyantyi said. “Being part of the Springboks‚ representing our country – it doesn’t get any better.”
Farrell to replace Schmidt as Ireland coach
World coach of the year Joe Schmidt is to step down as Ireland handler after next year’s World Cup and be replaced by their defence guru Andy Farrell, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced on Monday.
Ireland lead the charge for All Blacks’ crown
Reigning champions New Zealand may remain the team to beat at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but November’s internationals confirmed that Ireland are hot on their heels. New Zealand top the world rankings but Ireland, Wales and England occupy the next three places in the standings. The 2015 World Cup saw the southern hemisphere provide all four semifinalists but, based on current form, it will be a major shock if no European side makes the last four next year.
Banned batsmen help Aussies prepare
Banned Steve Smith and David Warner won’t be playing any of Australia’s upcoming Tests against India, but they are being quietly eased back into the fold to help their bowlers combat Virat Kohli. The duo, once national captain and vice-captain respectively, have been enlisted to help the pace attack prepare. Warner was welcomed back on Sunday, spotted in the Sydney Cricket Ground nets facing Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins with coach Justin Langer intently watching on in the umpire’s position.
England claim landmark Test series sweep
Skipper Joe Root hailed England’s “complete team effort” Monday after his team sealed a tense victory over Sri Lanka in the third and final Test to record their first overseas series sweep in 55 years.
Australia already eyeing home-soil defence
Australia’s women cricketers are already eyeing the defence of their World Twenty20 crown on home soil after cruising to victory over England, with skipper Meg Lanning saying their focus must now be on consistency. “We want to be a very consistent cricket team and I think we have done that over the last few years without the success at world tournaments. So hopefully this win is sort of the start of something,” Lanning said after their eight-wicket win in Antigua.
Vettel takes stock as Ferrari lick wounds
Sebastian Vettel, so graceful in his handling of defeat by Lewis Hamilton in this year’s drivers’ title race, on Monday began serious reflections on his and Ferrari’s disappointing season and a harsh self-examination. The four-time champion German, whose Ferrari car was often the fastest on the grid, conceded he had to look at himself first and the team secondly after he had finished second behind new five-time champion Hamilton in Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “I don’t think I ever have any problems raising my hand if I made a mistake,” he said, conceding that in 2018 he had made a few.
- AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE