SPORTS DAY: It’s a big ask but we’re up for it, says Jordaan

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SPORTS DAY: It’s a big ask but we’re up for it, says Jordaan

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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SOCCER
Can SA beat the clock and host Nations Cup?
SA will likely only have six months to prepare for an event that usually takes years to plan, and South African Football (Safa) president Danny Jordaan conceded that stepping in as emergency hosts of next year’s African Nations Cup will be a frantic race against the clock. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) stripped Cameroon of the hosting rights a few days ago‚ citing fears over security and delays in preparations for the event‚ and then asked SA to step in as emergency hosts. And while Safa agreed to Caf’s request at the weekend‚ Jordaan conceded it would be a tough ask to plan for the continent’s first 24-team Nations Cup at such short notice. “It is a very short time and that is why we said this is a crisis moment‚” he said. “But what we cannot do is to allow the first 24-team African Nations Cup not to happen or to be delayed or to be postponed.” RUGBY
Less pressure on Blitzboks after Dubai: Specman
After making their worst start in five years to an HSBC World Sevens campaign, the Blitzboks believe they are under less pressure at their home tournament than in previous years. Finishing sixth at the 2018/19 season-opening tournament in Dubai last weekend has certainly been a reality check for the defending World Series champions after coming to Cape Town as Dubai winners for the past two seasons. At this weekend’s second leg of the season at Cape Town Stadium it’s vital for the Blitzboks to make an immediate return to form because they have already lost significant ground to New Zealand. “Last week was a bad start for the campaign‚ but the coach said it could be something good if he learn from it‚” Blitzbok playmaker Rosko Specman said. “There will probably be less pressure on us this weekend because most of it will be on New Zealand and the USA.”
BOXING
Fury says Wilder will avoid rematch ‘at all costs’
Tyson Fury said on Monday WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will try to avoid a rematch with him “at all costs” after their epic draw in Los Angeles. Wilder retained his belt on Saturday after a thrilling 12-round battle ended in a split decision draw at the Staples Center. The result means the American is still in a position to achieve his dream of unifying the heavyweight division against Fury’s fellow Briton Anthony Joshua, who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO versions of the title. After the bout Wilder said he would prefer to target Joshua’s titles in a bid to unify the division but would be satisfied with either a rematch against Fury or a chance to take on Joshua. But Fury told Britain’s ITV network: “I’ve got a funny feeling he’s going to get his running shoes out and stay away from me at all costs. I’m only getting better, and better and better. I can beat them all but they need to fight me. We need to give Britain the biggest fight in British boxing history and that’s me and Joshua.”
SOCCER
Mark Hughes sacked as Southampton manager
Mark Hughes has been sacked as manager of Southampton, the struggling Premier League club announced on Monday, despite an improved performance in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. The Welshman, 55, took over at St Mary’s in March and guided them to Premier League survival and an FA Cup semifinal, but was unable to inspire a better campaign this season. “We would like to express our thanks to Mark and his staff for all of their efforts during their time at St Mary’s,” the club said. “The search for a new manager to take the club forward is already under way. First team assistant coach Kelvin Davis will lead the team for Wednesday’s Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.” Assistant first team manager Mark Bowen and assistant first team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki have also left the club.
CRICKET
Windies thumping bittersweet for Walsh
Former West Indies bowling great Courtney Walsh has admitted to mixed emotions as his countrymen were routed by Bangladesh, the side he now helps coach, who earned a rare Test series win. Bangladesh swept the series 2-0, with the second Test wrapping up Sunday inside three days as the Tigers recorded their first victory by an innings margin. The Caribbean visitors made just 111 runs in their first innings – the lowest Test score yet recorded against their hosts – to become the first side Bangladesh has ever asked to follow-on. Walsh, a Jamaican cricketing giant who took 519 Test wickets for the West Indies, today acts as fast-bowling coach for Bangladesh, and said the thumping was bittersweet. “I might say that I am disappointed with probably how things have unfolded, but I am very happy to be involved with Bangladesh,” he said in Dhaka.
SOCCER
Spurs fan arrested after banana skin stunt
A football fan has been arrested after a banana skin was thrown onto the pitch at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrated scoring a penalty in front of Tottenham fans. The Gunners won a memorable match 4-2 on Sunday and London’s Metropolitan Police afterwards confirmed there were seven arrests made. Britiain’s Press Association said it understands that one of those arrests came after a banana skin was hurled from the away end as Aubameyang celebrated scoring in front of the Tottenham fans. “Behaviour such as this is completely unacceptable and the supporter in question will be issued with a ban,” a Tottenham spokesperson said. There were also six arrests for public order offences, at least two of which are believed to be Arsenal supporters who lit smoke canisters during the match.
TENNIS
Halep, Osaka, Kerber to play Sydney International
World No 1 Simona Halep and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will headline a strong field in the women’s draw of the Sydney International, organisers said on Monday. Eight of the world’s top 10 have signed on for the January 6-12 event as they use it to warm up for the Australian Open Grand Slam the following week. Also playing will be defending champion and Wimbledon winner Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens, and Daria Kasatkina. The only two members of the top 10 not taking part are Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina. The men’s side is weaker with Britain’s 14th-ranked Kyle Edmund the top seed, along with the likes of Gilles Simon, Alex de Minaur, Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
OLYMPICS
2020 organisers vow to guard against complacency
Tokyo 2020 organisers vowed no let-up in their drive to host a successful Summer Games on Monday as International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach once again heaped praise on the city’s preparations. Bach, in opening remarks ahead of a meeting between IOC and 2020 officials, repeated that Tokyo was the most prepared city for an Olympics he could remember, and while organisers were happy with the compliments they said there was much work to be done. “We have a saying in Japanese that says that loosening your tension is a big enemy,” said Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori. With about 600 days to go until the start of the Games on July 24, 2020, organisers find themselves in a relatively comfortable position, with preparations back on track following some initial bumps in the road.
CRICKET
Gayle wins Aussie masseuse defamation payout
West Indies cricket star Chris Gayle has won a $221,000 payout from an Australian media group which claimed he exposed his genitals to a massage therapist. The all-rounder was accused by Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, in a series of stories in the newspapers in 2016. They alleged he exposed his penis and indecently propositioned the woman in a dressing room at the 2015 World Cup in Sydney. Gayle strenuously denied the allegations, claiming at the time that the journalists behind the story wanted to “destroy him”. His teammate Dwayne Smith, who was in the changing room at the time, also denied the incident took place. He won his defamation case in October 2017, with jurors finding Fairfax was motivated by malice and had failed to establish a defence of truth. New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum said in awarding the payout on Monday that being accused of such conduct was “very damaging to Mr Gayle’s reputation”, according to a report in Fairfax newspapers.
SOCCER
Sierra Leone disqualified from African Nations Cup
Sierra Leone have been disqualified from the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying competition, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday. Football’s world governing body Fifa had suspended the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) in October owing to “government interference”. CAF’s decision means Kenya and Ghana are assured of first and second place in Sierra Leone’s Group F and have therefore booked their place in next year’s finals. “Sierra Leone is disqualified from the qualifiers and all its matches are annulled,” CAF said. The row stems from the decision of Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission to sack SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE

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