SPORTS DAY: Have we been Afconned, Safa chief wonders

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SPORTS DAY: Have we been Afconned, Safa chief wonders

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sports editor


SOCCER
Safa irked by Afcon decision
There was a strong possibility that political considerations overrode the technical aspects of the two bids‚ South African Football Association (Safa) acting CEO Russell Paul said after Egypt were awarded the hosting of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). The Confederation of African Football’s vote was 16 for Egypt‚ one for the only rival bidder‚ SA‚ and one no-vote. There are apparent risks associated with awarding the Afcon to Egypt‚ including a tense political situation and security. SA‚ hosts of the 2010 World Cup and who stood in for the 2013 Afcon‚ would seem to have had a superior infrastructure and readiness capability. Speculation had been that Caf’s vote would favour Egypt due to SA having voted for the successful 2026 World Cup bid of US-Canada-Mexico over Morocco. “I’m obviously not qualified to respond to the political aspect thereof. But football is rife with politics‚ so I think it’s a very strong possibility‚” Paul said on Wednesday.
Troubled Sundowns star goes AWOL
Troubled Mamelodi Sundowns defender Siyabonga Zulu has not reported for work for almost a month and has not set foot at the club’s Chloorkop headquarters since 2018. Insiders said on Tuesday that Zulu‚ who joined the Brazilians at the beginning of 2018 from the now defunct Platinum Stars‚ has not reported for training since December and the club is in the dark about his whereabouts. Coach Pitso Mosimane‚ who had high hopes for Zulu‚ and the club’s management have given up on the former Bafana Bafana left-back as he is a repeat offender, having appeared before two disciplinary hearings in 2018. “The club took a big chance on him‚ despite the problems he had at his previous clubs‚ with the hope that he comes good‚” said the insider. “The situation is serious. Sometimes he does not attend games when he is not playing and he does not pitch when asked to play for the MDC team. The club has done everything possible to help him but he does not want to change.”
TENNIS
Anderson, Harris take different roads to Melbourne
The SA pair of Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris are taking different routes to the Australian Open in Melbourne. Anderson‚ the world No 6‚ will go into the main draw of the season’s first major on the back of winning his sixth ATP title last weekend. Anderson won the Tata Pune Open in India‚ beating big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic in a final predictably dominated by aces to start his year where he left off in 2018. Anderson moved into the top 10 on the world rankings in 2018‚ made the Wimbledon final‚ won two tournaments‚ a record 45 matches as well as making the semifinals of the season’s finale at the ATP World Championships in London. Life is good for the 32-year-old Johannesburger. Harris‚ by contrast‚ is being put through the ringer in the brutal Australian Open qualifying at Melbourne Park.
GOLF
Harrington is Europe captain for 2020 Ryder Cup Padraig Harrington has been handed the task of defending Europe’s Ryder Cup title in the US in 2020 after being named team captain on Tuesday. The three-time major winner succeeds Dane Thomas Bjorn and becomes just the second golfer from Ireland to take the reins for the tournament after Paul McGinley, who was victorious in 2014. Harrington was the clear favourite for the role after receiving high-profile support for his nomination from the likes of Northern Irish superstar Rory McIlroy. While his main rival, Lee Westwood, had expressed his desire to try and qualify as a player. Four-time Ryder Cup winner Harrington, who is not able to play at the moment, having broken his wrist falling down the stairs at Christmas, acknowledged the size of the task he faced in winning at Whistling Straits, a course he knows well having competed three times there in the PGA Championship. “I know we are going to a new venue, it’s an away match ... I have to be part of that team and ensure that I find an edge to make the team perform to the best of their abilities and hopefully get a win,” he said.
CRICKET
IPL to be held in India despite election clash
The Indian Premier League will be held in India, the cricket board said on Tuesday, quelling speculation that the Twenty20 extravaganza could be held elsewhere owing to a clash with a general election. The money-spinning competition that lasts two months would be held from March 23 with a detailed schedule to be announced later, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said. The announcement comes amid widespread reports that the IPL could be moved out of the country due to security concerns as India is to hold general elections by May. “Based on preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state authorities, it was decided that the ... tournament will be played in India,” BCCI said. In 2014 when the country last held national polls, the UAE hosted the first two weeks of the IPL. The entire 2009 edition took place in SA, again to avoid a clash with elections. State governments say providing security for the IPL is a challenge at a time when they are preoccupied with election duty in the country of 1.25 billion people.
TENNIS
The greatest? Serena can end argument in Oz
Serena Williams hopes to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles majors at next week’s Australian Open but many already regard her as the greatest women’s player of all time – although Court herself is not necessarily among them. Over the years Court has expressed admiration for Serena’s achievements but the Australian also bristles when her own record is dismissed as largely irrelevant in the world of modern tennis. The 76-year-old won 13 of her 24 Grand Slams before 1968, when the women’s game entered the open era and became fully professional. She won 24 singles Slams from 1960-73: 11 Australian Opens, five French Opens, three Wimbledons and five US Opens. Serena’s tally stands at 23 since 1998: seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons and six US Opens. Chris Evert, who won 18 singles Slams, believes the standard of today’s game is so far above previous eras that comparisons are meaningless. “Of course Serena is the best ever,” she told CBS in 2018.
CRICKET
Cash bonuses for India heroes after Aussie triumph
India has awarded cash bonuses of up to $85,000 for Virat Kohli and his players who secured a historic first Test series triumph in Australia. India clinched the four-match series 2-1 in Sydney on Monday, sparking national celebrations. On Tuesday, Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a bonus of $21,400 per match for each player while the reserves will get $10,700 per match. That means that Kohli and others who took part in all four Tests will get more than $85,000, doubling their match fees. Coach Ravi Shastri and his assistants will get $35,650 each. The board routinely gives bonuses for multination tournaments like the World Cup or Champions Trophy, but extra payments for a bilateral series is rare.
SKIING
Vonn to make season’s debut in St Anton
US skier Lindsey Vonn is planning to make her World Cup season’s debut in Austria this weekend after recovering from a knee injury. The 34-year-old, whose 82 career World Cup race victories leave her four short of equalling the all-time record held by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, said on Instagram she would be in St Anton for a downhill and Super-G. “I’m NOT done yet!!! It’s been a tough six weeks but I’m on skis again and excited to get back in the starting gate. See you in St Anton this weekend,” said the 2010 Olympic downhill champion. The Austrian resort hosts a women’s downhill on Saturday and Super-G on Sunday. Training starts on Thursday. Vonn, a four-times World Cup overall champion and the most successful female ski racer of all time, injured her knee in Super-G training at Copper Mountain, Colorado, last November.
CRICKET
Tons for Black Caps Taylor, Nicholls
Veteran Ross Taylor and rising star Henry Nicholls both smashed centuries as New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 115 runs in the third one-day international in Nelson Tuesday to complete a 3-0 series whitewash. Taylor top-scored with 137, and Nicholls was unbeaten on 124 off just 80 balls, lifting the hosts to 364 for four after they lost the toss and were sent in to bat. It was a record ODI score at Nelson’s Saxton Oval, where the average is just 275, and Sri Lanka never looked like reaching the mammoth total. They were all out for 249 in the 42nd over, throwing away their final four wickets without scoring a run as the series ended with a whimper. With the series already decided, Nicholls and Taylor used the dead rubber to send a message to New Zealand selectors ahead of this year’s World Cup. It was Nicholls’s maiden ODI ton and the 27-year-old will hope his strong Test form is finally transferring to the limited-overs format. Taylor’s 20th ODI century tightened the 34-year-old’s grip on the New Zealand record he already holds for one-day centuries.
SOCCER
‘Proud’ Robben weighs up post-Bayern offers
Veteran Dutch winger Arjen Robben has said he is “proud” of the offers he has received from other clubs since announcing he will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season. Robben, who turns 35 on January 23, is out of contract in June with Bayern, but has reportedly already been approached by PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan. The flying Dutchman is tight-lipped over the details of the offers he has received since confirming last month that this will be his final season at Bayern, a decade after joining from Real Madrid in 2009. “I have received a few offers and have to admit they have made me somewhat proud,” Robben said at Bayern’s winter training camp in Doha.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVWE

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