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Posted on: Wednesday, 12 May 2010

South African Sports News – 12 May

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Teko Modise

Teko Modise

Thailand up next for Bafana
Bafana Bafana will be playing for their places in head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira’s final World Cup squad when the national team host Thailand in a friendly at the new Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday afternoon. That was the message from Bafana captain Teko Modise (pictured) yesterday as the team begin the final stages of their preparations for the international showpiece, which starts in Johannesburg next month.

“We know little about Thailand and will be watching DVD’s of their recent games, but the fact is we are fighting for our places in the squad. We all know what is at stake,” said Modise. “The coach has to cut the squad from 30 to 23 on June 1. That is sad but a fact. So with time running out we have to perform against Thailand,” he added.

Modise stressed there were no nerves in the camp about Parreira reducing the squad in two weeks. “I know the coach would love to keep all of us in camp, but he cannot, so the fight is on to stay and be part of the 2010 World Cup on home soil.” Modise also spoke candidly about his and the other midfielder players’ failure to find the back of the net over the past six months. “I and the other midfielders feel bad about the fact the midfielders are not scoring enough goals. The bottom line is we cannot keep blaming our strikers,” he explained.

“As midfielders we have to start taking responsibility and getting into more scoring positions and finishing those moves off. Hopefully we will turn that corner against Thailand,” added Modise who was happy with his side’s motivation going into the tournament. “At the moment the spirit is sky high. We are fit, sharp and ready for Thailand and the other friendly matches lined up during the next month.”

Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, 22, is brimming with confidence and, although he admits he dreams about playing for a top European club at some stage, stressed his main priority is helping Bafana succeed at the World Cup.   “I am confident. The camps have helped to build a tremendous spirit and personally I cannot wait for the World Cup to start,” he said.

Meanwhile, Germany-based goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez arrived in the country on Monday night where he promptly underwent a series of medical tests to determine whether or not he will stay in the squad. Fernandez, who plays in the German Second Division for Arminia Bielefeld, has been troubled by injures over the past two seasons, but Parreira is hoping to have him fit and ready before the World Cup.

Bafana play Mexico at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on June 11 in the opening game of the global showpiece, and Sunday’s game against Thailand will be the first of four friendlies in the build up to the tournament. Bafana are scheduled to play Bulgaria on May 24, Colombia on May 27 and Denmark on June 5 before facing Mexico.

The Bulgaria and Denmark games will be played at Soccer City while the Colombia match will take place at Loftus Versfeld. Parreira is also hoping to organise a match against Argentina as preparation for the World Cup. Sunday’s game against Thailand kicks off at 3.30pm.

Meanwhile, the Nedbank Cup semi-finalists were decided over the weekend when eight teams did battle at venues all over the country.

Bidvest Wits 0 – FC Cape Town 0 – Bidvest Stadium (Wits won 4-3 on penalties)
AmaZulu 2 – University of Pretoria 1 – Harry Gwala Stadium
Free State Stars 2 – MP Black Aces 0 – Charles Mopeli Stadium
Mamelodi Sundowns 3 – Orlando Pirates 1 – Kings Park Stadium
Semi-final match-ups
Free State Stars vs Bidvest Wits – Olen Park – 3.00pm
AmaZulu vs Mamelodi Sundowns – Kings Park Stadium – 8.15pm

Charl Langeveldt

Charl Langeveldt

Pitiful Proteas choke again
South Africa crashed out of the ICC World Twenty20 Championships on Monday when they slumped to a disappointing 11 run defeat against Pakistan at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia. Graeme Smith’s outfit, as a unit, were simply woeful as Pakistan produced a solid performance to send their more opponents packing.

After winning the toss, Pakistan elected to bat and were soon in trouble losing Salman Butt (2), Khalid Latif (7) and Mohammad Hafeez (1) to leave them staring down a barrel at 18/3 after five overs. Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Charl Langeveldt (pictured) had all taken a wicket each and looked in good form, but that was as good as it was going to get for South Africa as the wheels quickly fell off the cart.

Brother’s Kamran and Umar Akmal mastered the Proteas attack to move the score onto 69 before Herschelle Gibbs caught Kamran off the bowling of Roelof van der Merwe for 37. The opener’s innings included three fours and two sixes and came off 33 balls. The dangerous Shahid Afridi then joined Umar and the pair soon got stuck into the South African bowlers with Van der Merwe, in particular, coming in for some severe stick. The left arm spinner was smashed all over the park as he conceded a massive 33 runs of just two overs and was deservedly removed from the attack by Smith.

Umar and Afridi took the score to 130 before Gibbs bagged his second catch to dismiss Umar for 51 off the bowling of Langeveldt, the only player, besides AB De Villiers, who played to his potential in the match. Although Pakistan only managed to add another 18 runs off the last 21 balls with Afridi (30 runs off 18 deliveries) and Misbah-ul-Haq (3 off 7) perishing in quick succession, they were still able to reach a respectable 148/7 off their allotted 20 overs.

Set 149 to win at a rate of 7.45 to the over, the Proteas would have fancied their chances, but what transpired was pitiful to say the least. Openers Gibbs (3 off 9) and Smith (13 off 13) scratched around the crease like hens in a chicken coop before Gibbs was brilliantly caught by Ul Haq off the bowling of Abdul Razzaq with the total on 12. Gibbs’ dismissal brought Jacques Kallis to the crease but ‘Mr Dependable’, as Kallis is dubbed by some in the media, only succeeded in sleepwalking to 22 off 21 balls before being caught in the deep by Umar off the bowling of spinner Saeed Ajmal.

With Smith having already departed it was up to young guns De Villiers and JP Duminy to get South Africa on track for victory, but Duminy (3 off 5) perished quickly to leave the Proteas tottering on 68/4 and heading for the abyss. Mark Boucher then joined De Villiers at the crease and it seemed as though they would pull the ‘fat out of the fire’ with the latter, in particular, looking in ominous form.

However, just when it looked as though De Villiers (53 off 41) was going to power the Proteas to victory, he threw his wicket away by playing an audacious overhead ‘scoop’ off the bowling of Ajmal. The ball looped into the air where Kamran took a simple catch to leave the Proteas still 48 runs short off victory with only 26 balls left – a tough ask in anyone’s book.

And indeed, they weren’t up to the task as Boucher (12 off 14) and Johan Botha (19 off 8 ) perished in quick succession to leave the Proteas stranded on 137/7 – still 12 runs short of the target. It was a poor effort from the South African batsmen as they failed to come to terms with the pitch and the Pakistan spin bowlers with Ajmal, in particular, wrecking havoc with his 4/26 off four overs.

Although Smith and his men continue to deny they are ‘chokers’ as many in the press have labelled them, the fact remains they consistently fail to produce the goods in major competitions. It’s now clearly evident that something is seriously wrong with either their approach, or preparation for big tournaments.

“We are very, very disappointed,” said Smith afterwards. “We struggled with the bat. We lacked the fluency and positivity… it has been the story of the tournament. This team is too talented to be playing this way,” he added.

Talented they may be, but it’s clear that a remedy for the Proteas’ consistently poor performances has to be found soon otherwise they are unlikely to be taken seriously by either their opponents, or their dwindling band of supporters in future major competitions.

Scores in brief
Pakistan: 148/7 (Umar Akmal 51, Kamran Akmal 37 – Langeveldt 4-19)
South Africa: 137/7 (De Villiers 53, Kallis 22 – Ajmal 4-26)

Result: Pakistan won by 11 runs
Man of the match: Umar Akmal

Odwa Ndungane

Odwa Ndungane

Sloppy Stormers drop the ball
The high riding Vodacom Stormers were brought to earth with a resounding thud in Durban on Saturday evening when they went down 20-14 to a highly motivated and determined Sharks side at the Absa Stadium. The KwaZulu-Natalians were full value for their victory as they outplayed the Cape outfit in all facets of the game on a warm winter evening.

It was a disappointing performance from the Stormers who crushed seven times champions the Crusaders 42-14 in their last outing and were favoured to dish out more of the same to the Sharks. However, it was not to be as the Sharks came out swinging for the fences from the kick off with scrumhalf Rory Kockott causing a flutter among the Stormers defenders with some sniping runs.

The visitors looked distinctly ill at ease as they were pinned down in their own 22 from the kick-off – scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage not helping matters with two misdirected kicks, which put his side under tremendous pressure. The Cape outfit then added to their troubles by trying to run the ball out of their own 22 when they should have been concentrating on kicking the ball into touch.

Sharks right wing Odwa Ndungane (pictured) punished the Stormers for their foolishness by rounding their defence early with Pienaar’s conversion making it 7-0 after as many minutes. The Sharks, buoyed by their early success, kept up the pressure, but silly errors and wrong options meant the KwaZulu-Natalians squandered a host of try scoring opportunities, which could have put them out of sight early.

However, when Stormers wing Sireli Naqelevuki gifted the home side a seven pointer shortly before the interval, it was clear that something was amiss with Schalk Burger’s side. The powerful Fijian amazingly failed to execute a regulation dot down from a nothing kick-ahead from Sharks flyhalf Ruan Pienaar, allowing the Springbok international to dive onto the ball for the simplest of tries. Pienaar’s score came in the 38th minute and it meant the Sharks had a buffer at half time as they went into the break 14-0 up.

The Stormers, obviously acutely aware that they needed to score early in the second half to have any chance of clawing their way back into the match, made a solid start when flyhalf Peter Grant went over near the posts in the 45th minute. His conversion reduced the deficit to just seven points and it seemed as though the visitors were on their way back.

However, Grant then fluffed a 47m penalty as the game meandered along for the next 20 minutes before Pienaar increased the Sharks’ lead with two penalties as they headed into the last five minutes with a 13-point advantage. Francois Louw hit back for the Stormers with a last minute try that was converted by Grant, but it was too little, too late as the visitors suffered their fourth defeat of the competition against eight wins.

Despite their loss, the Stormers are still second on the log courtesy of Louw’s late try, which securing them a bonus point for finishing within seven. The Cape outfit still have to beat the Vodacom Bulls next Saturday to ensure a home semi-final, but had they not netted the bonus point, they might have found themselves needing to chase four tries along with the win to do so.

As it turns out, the result means the Bulls are now assured of finishing in top spot, and that might just reduce the ante for the men in blue when they travel to Newlands next week for the long awaited derby against their southern rivals.

Sharks 20: Tries – Odwa Ndungane, Ruan Pienaar. Conversions – Pienaar (2). Penalties – Pienaar (2).
Vodacom Stormers 14: Tries – Peter Grant, Francois Louw. Conversions – Grant (2).

Other results (From left to right, SA teams in bold)
Hurricanes 44 – Reds 21 – Wellington
Bulls 40 – Crusaders 35 – Loftus Versfeld
Chiefs 19 – Waratahs 46 – Hamilton
Brumbies 31 – Highlanders 3 – Canberra
Lions 14 – Blues 56 – Johannesburg
Cheetahs 29 – Western Force 14 – Bloemfontein

This weekend sees the teams play their final round of league fixtures with the pick of the games likely to be the local derby between the Bulls and the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday. Both teams have already qualified for the last four but a victory for the Stormers would ensure them a home semi-final, while defeat for the Bulls will not be a good omen with the semi’s less than two weeks away.

The Waratahs, Brumbies, Hurricanes, Crusaders and the Reds will also be looking for wins this weekend in an effort to secure the remaining last four spots, and some intense struggles are expected with no quarter asked or given.

Weekend fixtures (SA teams in bold)
Crusaders vs Brumbies – Christchurch – 9.35am
Waratahs vs Hurricanes – Sydney – 11.40am
The Sharks vs Western Force – Durban – 7.10pm
Blues vs Chiefs – Auckland – 9.35am
Reds vs Highlanders – Brisbane – 11.40am
Cheetahs vs Lions – Bloemfontein – 3.00pm
Stormers vs Bulls – Cape Town – 5.05pm

Hekkie Budler

Hekkie Budler

IBO triple-header looks set to draw crowds
Unbeaten South African boxing sensation Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen will get an opportunity to fight for a world championship in only his 12th professional outing, when he squares off against big-hitting Australian Michael Bolling for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super middleweight title in Kempton Park on June 19.

Oosthuizen’s meteoric rise through the international super middleweight ranks culminated in an impressive eighth round demolition of highly regarded Mexican Saul Roman last month, and the Boksburg bomber now stands on the threshold of capturing a world title.

However, he will have a tough nut to crack in the form of the 25-year-old Bolling. The Aussie, like Oosthuizen, is a big puncher and earned his shot with an excellent win over former IBO title challenger Victor Oganov in his last outing. He is also unbeaten, having won 12 bouts, 10 of them by knockout.

Oosthuizen (11-0; 8 KO’s) will no doubt have to be at his brilliant best if he wants to beat Bolling, but he will not lack motivation if front of his many fans at Emperors Palace – the venue for the fight. The handsome youngster has become the darling of the Palace since his professional debut there in July 2008.

All but one of his fights have taken place there and Oosthuizen always draws a large crowd to see him mix it up with the best the sport has to offer. The prodigiously talented South African seemingly has the world at his feet and a win over Bolling will not only bring him a world title, but also open the doors to bigger and better things.

If he keeps on his winning it’s not unrealistic to envision Oosthuizen fighting for a more recognised world championship in the near future – an excellent achievement, considering the current dearth of world champions from these shores in the higher weight divisions.

The Oosthuizen/Bolling clash will be one of three IBO title fights on the Golden Gloves Promotions bill. The other contests will pit local boxers against Filipino opponents in a pair of highly anticipated match-ups. Junior flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (pictured right) will defend his crown against Juanito Rubillar in a return bout, while Gideon Buthelezi and Ronelle Ferreras will meet for the minimumweight title in the other big clash.

Budler defeated Rubillar on points to capture the crown earlier this year, but the decision was hotly disputed. Many experts, including Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman, felt the verdict should have gone to Rubillar. The controversy prompted IBO officials to order a rematch, setting the stage for the return bout.

In the other fights on the bill, unbeaten but untested heavyweight prospect Flo Simba will square off against Elvis Moyo in the first of two supporting bouts, while Jason ‘Badman’ Bedeman goes up against Bongani Dlamini in a lightweight bout scheduled for 12 rounds.

Upcoming bouts
Friday evening
Nasrec Indoor Arena in Johannesburg
Macbute Sinyabi vs Themba Lesiba (South African junior featherweight championship).
Coverage on SABC 2 from 10pm.

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

South Africa to face Germany in September
“Awesome but not impossible,” was how team captain John-Laffnie de Jager and most others viewed South Africa’s pairing with Germany away when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced the draw yesterday for the Davis Cup World Group play-offs. On paper, at least, Germany boast a much stronger line-up, which includes no less than nine players among the world’s top 100 – among them the 29th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber.

All nine are ranked higher than top South African player Kevin Anderson (pictured) and include Philipp Petzschner (ranked 42nd), Michael Berrer (43rd) Benjamin Becker (46th), Florian Mayer (48th) and Simon Greul (60th), with no certainty either that the reluctant 97th-ranked Anderson will make himself available for the September 17 to 19 tie.

A grain of comfort for South Africa is that the experienced, 20th-ranked Tommy Haas, a long-time stalwart of Davis Cup competition, has now taken up U.S. citizenship and will no longer be available for Germany. “There is no doubting Germany’s depth-in-talent,” said De Jager, “but I don’t believe they have any player – and that includes Kohlschreiber – who can be placed in the unbeatable category, particularly if we can persuade Anderson to have a change of heart and mind and come to the party.”

De Jager said South Africa still possibly had an edge on Germany in the doubles, with the world’s ninth-ranked Wesley Moodie paired with either Rik De Voest or Jeff Coetzee comprising a world-class combination. The South African team captain also suggested the tie may take place on clay courts – “our worst surface” – although the winter climate could force the match indoors on more agreeable hard courts.

De Jager said he had contacted Anderson immediately after the weekend’s 5-0 Euro-Africa Group One drubbing of Finland at the Groenkloof Tennis Centre in Pretoria Accommodation, and had arranged to meet him at Wimbledon next month to “sort out matters”. Hopefully he would then be in a position to name a full-strength line-up for September.

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