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Posted on: Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Determined Bafana continue to impress and other South African Sports News – 26 May

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Siyabonga Sangweni

Siyabonga Sangweni

Determined Bafana continue to impress
Bafana Bafana produced a determined and sprited performance to draw 1-1 against highly rated Bulgaria in an exciting friendly international played at a near capacity Orlando Stadium on Monday evening. It was an excellent effort from the South Africans against their 39th world-ranked opponents and bodes well for their ambitions at next month’s Fifa World Cup, which kicks off on June 11.

Bafana are now unbeaten in nine matches since head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira took over the helm in November last year and if the South African’s can continue to play with the same level of pride, passion and commitment they demonstrated against Bulgaria, they stand an excellent chance of making it through to the second round of next month’s global showpiece.

South Africa had the better of proceedings in the opening half, pressing the action while Bulgaria were content to sit back and absorb the pressure. Whether the enthusiastic, vuvuzela-blowing, near-capacity crowd of 38 000 Bafana supporters had something to do with the Eastern Europeans’ passivity was up for speculation, but what was certain is that the frenzied support created an intimidating atmosphere that could unnerve even the most battle hardened of teams.

Bafana striker Katlego Mphela was first to threaten the Bulgarian goalmouth when he tested keeper Nikolay Mihaylov with a rasping free kick in the 11th minute. However, Mihaylov was up for the challenge and managed to deflect the ball away for a corner.

Two minutes later Mihaylov was back in action, this time parrying a powerful shot from live-wire Bafana winger Siphiwe Tshabalala. Bafana captain Teko Modise was next to test Mihaylov when the Orlando Pirates playmaker forced the Bulgaria keeper to block his sizzling 16th minute shot.

However, the South Africans eventually got the breakthrough when lanky central defender Siyabonga Sangweni (pictured) headed home Tshabalala’s free kick in the 20th minute. It was the 28-year-old Sangweni’s first goal for his country and virtually sealed the Golden Arrows star’s place in Parreira’s final squad of 23, which will be named on June 1.

With the Bulgarians now a goal down they needed to respond – and fast. Bafana keeper Itumeleng Khune, who up until Sanqweni’s goal had virtually nothing to do, was forced to save a fierce shot from Ivelin Popov in the 24th minute and then Valari Bojinov unleashed a corker that skidded fractionally wide of the Bafana uprights five minutes later.

Bulgaria’s breakthrough came in the 31st minute when Bojinov snuck behind the home defence and smashed the ball home from close range to even matters at 1-1. Undeterred by the setback, midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni shot over the crossbar on 36 minutes, and three minutes later Mihaylov failed to collect a hard shot from Reneilwe Letsholonyane, but luckily for the Eastern Europeans there was not a single Bafana player on hand to tap the ball into the back of the net.

The South Africans kept up the pressure in search of a second goal, but both Lucas Thwala and Tshabalala fired over the upright in the 42nd and 45th minutes respectively to leave the score unchanged at the break. Bafana right-back Siboniso Gaxa caused a few problems for the visiting defenders early in the second half with some accurate crosses, but on the whole the South Africans failed to press home their advantage in territory and possession.

Parreira’s men searched hard for a winner in the late stages of the second half, but a visibly tiring Bulgaria were able to hold on for a draw. Bafana’s next World Cup warm up match is against Columbia at Loftus Versveld tomorrow. Kick off is at 8.30pm.

Hashim Amla

Hashim Amla

Proteas survive Sammy onslought to go 2-0 up
The Proteas overcame a tremendous late fight back from the West Indies at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua on Monday to go 2-0 up in the five match One Day International (ODI) series against the men from the Caribbean. The Windies looked down and out on 200/6 after 40.4 overs, but were nearly propelled to victory by a blistering undefeated knock of 58 by Darren Sammy.

The 26-year-old Sammy, coming in at number nine, smashed six sixes and two fours in his 24-ball innings to give his team an excellent chance of pulling off an unlikely win against their more fancied rivals. However, Graeme Smith’s men kept their cool to run out Ravi Rampaul (5 runs off 8 balls) and Nikita Miller (0 off 1), leaving the courageous Sammy partnerless and the Windies still 18 runs short of victory.

It was a remarkable innings by Sammy who tore into the South African bowlers with such ferocity that it at times belied belief. Dale Steyn (1-59 off 10 overs), Morne Morkel (3-58 off 9.1 overs) and Johan Botha (1-58 off 10 overs) were all taken to the cleaners by Sammy, who might have taken the Windies to victory had it not been for the crucial dismissal of Dwayne Bravo in the 43rd over.

The home side needed Bravo (74 off 70 balls) to stay with Sammy till the end and steer them to victory, but when he was caught by Jacques Kallis in the covers off the bowling of Steyn, 65 were still needed off 36 balls – a tough ask in anyone’s books.

Nevertheless, the swashbuckling Sammy nearly pulled off the impossible as he dispatched the shell shocked Proteas bowlers to all coners of the park. His innings was the fastest ever half century by a West Indian, coming off just 19 balls and is unlikley to be repeated – at least in this lifetime.

The Windies had earlier made a subdued start in pursuit of the Proteas’ respectable total of 300/5 and were always playing catch up thereafter although openers Chris Gale (26 off 35) and Dale Richards (51 off 85) combined well for an opening stand of 50 before Gale was caught by Ryan McLaren off the bowling of Morkel.

Narsingh Deonarine (7 off 17), Kieron Pollard (29 off 35), Jerome Taylor (6 off 4) and Denesh Ramdin (2 off 4) didn’t last too long and it was left to Bravo and Sammy to get the Windies home, but in the end their efforts weren’t enough as the Proteas recorded their fourth consecutive tour victory over Chris Gayle’s team.

The Proteas innings was built around the efforts of Smith (37 off 52), Kallis (85 off 89) and ‘Man of the Match’ Hashim Amla (pictured) who scored 92 sparkling runs off just 95 balls in a fine innings of control that he is fast becoming famous for. The 27-year-old opener’s innings contained seven boundaries and he never looked in trouble against the West Indian bowlers before being snapped up by Richards off the bowling of Taylor with the total on 168.

AB De Villiers (41 off 35), and new-comer David Miller (26 not out off 19) kept up the good work to help South Africa to a triple century, but truth be told the South African middle order could have batted with more urgency as the overs ticked by. The Proteas’ tendancy to take their foot off the gas when they have the opposition on the ropes remains a concern, and one felt that 320, or even 330, would have been possible on what was a very placid wicket.

In the end though the Proteas got the win and take on the Windies again at Windsor Park in Dominica on Friday and Sunday in the next two ODI matches. The final ODI will be played at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica next Wednesday.

South Africa have already wrapped up the Twenty20 (T20) series against the Windies with back to back wins in Antigua last Wednesday and Thursday following which they recorded a 66-run victory over the Windies at the same venue on Saturday in the opening match of the ODI series. It has been a welcome return to form for the Proteas who had a disasterous campaign at the recent ICC T20 World Cup where they failed to advance past the Super Eights.

Fabian Juries

Fabian Juries

So close, yet so far for luckless Blitsbokke
The Springboks were denied a thrilling victory over Australia in the final of the IRB Sevens World Series at Twickenham on Sunday when Cecil Afrika was brought down a metre from the tryline with less than a minute remaining on the clock.

With the ‘Blitsbokke’ trailing 19-14 and the clock running out, Afrika put in a sterling run on the touchline and was heading for the tryline only to be stopped in his tracks by an excellent tackle from James Stannard. It was a bitter blow for Paul Treu’s men as a converted try would have won them the match and the tournament.

The Aussies opened the scoring after four minutes when Brackin Karauria-Henry dotted down after a brilliant run which saw him leave the Bok defence for dead. The South Africans quickly levelled matters when the fleet-footed Fabian Juries (pictured), on as a replacement, collected a kick ahead to score a converted try under the posts. Juries’ effort left the teams deadlocked at 7-7 at the break.

Stannard got the Aussies back into the lead when he dotted down near the corner less than three minutes into the second half, but the Boks hit back two minutes later with another brilliant effort from Juries. Charging down the touchline for the corner, he feigned to go around to the outside of his man, stepped to the inside and scored under the posts. The conversion was added and the Boks were 14-12 up with less than five minutes to go.

The Australians, true to their fighting spirit, regained the lead with a well- worked try from Henry Vanderglas and with just two minutes left the Boks had it all to do to pull off a victory. They nearly did, but sadly it was not to be as Afrika was thwarted in the dying seconds to leave the Boks five points adfrift and with no time to work with.

Australia’s victory earned them their first Seven’s title since 2008 while the Blitsbokke were left to contemplate a much-improved performance but also the heartache of coming so close without securing the spoils. Nevertheless it was an amazing tournament for the Springboks after they failed to advance beyond the quarter-finals in the previous six tournaments in the series.

Their performance at Twickenham showed they have come a long way since the series opener in Dubai in December and coach Treu must now be hoping for an even better result this weekend in Edinburgh, the year’s final tournament.

Gio Aplon

Gio Aplon

Gio gets Bok call up
The Springbok selectors included Vodacom Stormers wing Gio Aplon (pictured) and flanker Francois Louw in their starting XV when the team to take on Wales in Cardiff next weekend was announced on Saturday. New caps Aplon and Louw have received recognition for their consistently good performances during the 2010 Vodacom Super 14 tournament while Vodacom Cheetahs wing Bjorn Basson, another player who has played some exceptional Super 14 rugby this year, is the only new cap on the bench.

The 22-man Springbok squad boasts a total of 531 test caps and is an interesting combination of some form players from the Super 14 and some familiar names from the not too distant past. The 27-year-old Aplon, a Springbok Sevens player, has produced some consistently sparkling performances during the Super 14 and can also play at fullback if required.

Louw, on the other hand, has been crucial to the Stormers success at the breakdown this season, combining his size with sound technique to good effect. Basson, who took the field for the Emerging Springboks against the British & Irish Lions in 2009, is rewarded for some sterling performances for the Cheetahs during the last few rounds of the Super 14.

15 – Francois Steyn (Racing Metro) – 36 caps
14 – Gio Aplon (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
13 – Jean de Villiers (Munster) – 55 caps
12 – Butch James (Bath) – 35 caps
11 – Odwa Ndungane (Sharks) – 6 caps
10 – Ruan Pienaar (Sharks) – 36 caps
9 – Ricky Januarie (Vodacom Stormers) – 40 caps
8 – Joe van Niekerk (Toulon) – 51 caps
7 – Dewald Potgieter (Vodacom Bulls) – 1 cap
6 – Francois Louw (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
5 – Andries Bekker (Vodacom Stormers) – 21 caps
4 – Danie Rossouw (Vodacom Bulls) – 46 caps
3 – BJ Botha (Ulster) – 19 caps
2 – John Smit, captain (Sharks) – 93 caps
1 – CJ van der Linde (Leinster) – 58 caps

16 – Chiliboy Ralepelle (Vodacom Bulls) – 8 caps
17 – Jannie du Plessis (Sharks) – 12 caps
18 – Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks) – uncapped
19 – Ryan Kankowski (Sharks) – 11 caps
20 – Meyer Bosman (Vodacom Cheetahs) – 3 caps
21 – Juan de Jongh (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
22 – Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Cheetahs) – uncapped

Fourie Du Preez

Fourie Du Preez

No nonsense Bulls power into final
The all conquering Vodacom Bulls produced an excellent all round performance to defeat the Crusaders 39-24 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday afternoon and power their way into the Super 14 final. The Bulls’ opponents will be the Vodacom Stormers who outclassed the Waratahs 25-6 at Newlands in Cape Town in Saturday’s other semi-final.

Although many pundits and fans alike were concerned that the Bulls would be unsettled by playing at the Orlando Stadium rather than at their traditional hunting crowd Loftus Versveld, the fears proved unfounded as the men in blue tore into the New Zealanders from the kick off.

Bulls No 8 Pierre Spies scored the opening try after just four minutes when the powerful loose forward spotted a gap and charged towards the line virtually unapposed to dot down. Kicking machine Morné Steyn banged over the conversion to make it 7-0 and the Bulls were looking as threatening as ever.

Danie Rossouw crossed the Crusaders’ line for a second time shortly afterwards, but the visitors were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the television referee ruled Rossouw had lost the ball forward even though the try looked legitimate. The Crusaders eventually opened their account when flanker and captain Richie McCaw went over from close range, but the Bulls quickly responded with a Steyn penalty and a try from fullback Zane Kirchner to tighten their grip on the match.

Kirchner’s score came from a high kick that bounced off George Whitelock’s head in the direction of the tryline and into the hands of the hardworking No 15 who, along with left wing Francois Hougaard, were giving chase for all they were worth.

Steyn slotted two further penalties to take the Bulls to 23-10 at the break and it looked as if the Crusaders’ challenge was over. However, the New Zealanders had other ideas with Sean Maitland breaking a tackle from Dewald Potgieter to score their second try early in the second half. Flyhalf Dan Carter then made no mistake with the conversion to bring his team within six points of levelling matters.

The Bulls knew they had to land a killer blow to prevent the Crusaders from staging one of their customary fight backs and it came in the form of a moment of brilliance from their livewire scrumhalf Fourie Du Preez (pictured). The nippy No 9 broke quickly from a scrum near the Crusaders tryline and sprinted down the touchline almost unchallenged to dive in at the corner.

It was an excellent try that knocked the stuffing out of the Crusaders and from then on the Bulls took complete control of the match as the visitors’ scrum crumbled. Steyn added two further penalties to increase the Bulls’ lead and although Same Whitelock scored a try for the New Zelanders in the dying minutes it was too late too prevent the Bulls from booking their place in the final.

Although Saturday’s final should prove to a thrilling affair the men from Pretoria Accommodation must definitely start as favourites. Victor Matfield’s team simply have too much going for them to lose this one. They have ‘home ground’ advantage, a tremendously powerful and experienced forward pack, the prodigious boot of Steyn and a backline full of exciting runners that can tear even the best defences to shreds.

It will take a monumental effort from the Stormers to deny the Bulls victory and although the Cape outfit have been in outsanding form this season, beating the Bulls on Saturday just seems too much of an ask. Kick-off at the Orlando Stadium is at 5pm.

Bulls 39 – Tries: Pierre Spies, Zane Kirchner, Fourie du Preez. Conversions: Morne Steyn (3). Penalties: Steyn (6).
Crusaders 24 – Tries: Richie McCaw, Sean Maitland, Sam Whitelock. Conversions: Dan Carter (3). Penalty: Carter.

Sifiso Vilakazi

Sifiso Vilakazi

Wits down Usuthu to take Nedbank Cup
Bidvest Wits were crowned Nedbank Cup champions after defeating AmaZulu 3-0 at the newly-revamped Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.The Students took the field as underdogs, but dominated possession for the better part of the game and deserved their win in front of a massive crowd of 71 956 frenzied fans.

Wits midfielder Mark Haskins came close to opening the scoring in the eighth minute when his header from a cross was parried away to safety by Nick Gindre, who used his legs to great effect. Haskins was back in the action 10 minutes later when Marawaan Bantam put him clear of Usuthu’s defenders and with just Gindre to beat Haskins tried to lob the Usuthu keeper. However, his left flick lacked power and Amazulu survived.

Usuthu, feeling the pressure, were constantly making fouls and as a result three players – Abdullahi Ishaka, Ayanda Dlamini and Pere Ariweriyai – were booked by the referee. The KwaZulu-Natalians played safety first football in the opening half, hoping to win the game from thrown-ins and corners, but it was a flawed strategy that never worked out.

Wits continued their dominance in the second half, though Bantam had to come off in the 50th minute as he struggled with an injured right leg. He was replaced by Brazilian midfielder Fabricio Rodrigues who put the Students 1-0 up in the 76th minute. Sipho Mngomezulu thrust forward from the left and chipped the ball into the area. Gindre and the Usuthu defenders failed to clear and Rodrigues made no mistake with an easy tap-in.

In a desperate attempt to ward off defeat, AmaZulu coach Neil Tovey abandoned his safety first policy by taking off Dumisani Ngwenya and bringing on Sandile Gumede, who scored the last-minute equaliser against Mamelodi Sundowns in the semi-finals. Tovey didn’t stop there, bringing on Bradley Ritson for Nhlanhla Zwane three minutes later, but there was to be no rescue act from Usuthu this time.

Wits wrapped up proceedings in the form of former Free State Stars and Ajax Cape Town striker Sifiso Vilakazi (pictured right) who banged in two goals in the closing minutes to make the final score 3-0 and send the Wits fans into a frenzy. It was a well-deserved victory for the Students and bodes well for their future domestic campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) hosted its annual wards for the 2009/10 PSL season at the State Theatre in Pretoria on Monday evening and SuperSport United’s Morgan Gould was the star of the show when he scooped the evening’s flagship award, the PSL Player of the Year for 2009/10. Gould had close competition from Katlego Mphela and Elias Pelembe, but the voting from all 16 Premiership club coaches went in favor of Gould.

Other awards
Player of the Season: Daine Klate
Coach of the Season: Gavin Hunt
Players Player: Katlego Mphela
Red Hot Young Player: Siyanda Xulu
Goalkeeper of the Season: Moeneeb Josephs
Absa Premiership Absa-lutely Awesome Goal: Rudolf Bester from Maritzburg: United against Kaizer Chiefs (September 12, 2009).

Colleen de Reuck

Colleen de Reuck

Colleen strikes gold in Copenhagen
Former South African Colleen de Reuck (pictured) recorded the second best performance of all time in her age group at the Copenhagen marathon at the weekend. The 46-year-old De Reuck, now competing for the United States, won the women’s race by almost eight minutes on Sunday, finishing in two hours, 30 minutes and 51 seconds with only six men crossing the line ahead of her.

De Reuck still holds the second fastest marathon time ever recorded by a South African woman, having clocked 2:26.35 to win the 1996 Berlin marathon – a time bettered only by Elana Meyer’s 2:25.15 for third place at the 1994 Boston marathon.

Having competed in three Olympic Games for South Africa –  in 1992, 1996 and 2000 –  De Reuck was granted American citizenship in December 2000. She came third in the women’s long race at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, in her new national colours, and competed for the United States at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Her time in Copenhagen was less than two minutes short of the 45-49 years age group world record of 2:29.00 set by Ukrainian Tatyana Pozdniakova at the 2002 Cox Sports marathon in Providence.

Meanwhile, after finishing a respectable ninth on his debut Comrades Marathon last year, Bethuel Netshifhefhe has emerged as one of the favourites to clinch the title on Sunday. Netshifhefhe, a former Two Oceans Marathon winner, predicts tough opposition from reigning champion, Stephen Muzhingi from Zimbabwe and Charles Tjiane who finished third last year.

Muzhingi won last year’s ultra marathon in 5:30.27 to clock the second-fastest time in the history of the event. Other top runners who will be in action include Brain Zondi, Andrew Kelehe, Sipho Ngomane, Farwa Mentoor and Pauline Phaho.

The Comrades is the world’s oldest and largest ultra marathon run over a distance of approximately 90km between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The direction of the race alternates each year between the up run, starting from Durban, and the down run starting from Pietermaritzburg. Sunday’s race will be the 85th running of the event and has attracted runners from a far a field as Germany, Bulgaria, Russia and the United States.

Jubatha wins early to retain title
Sabelo Jubatha scored a second technical knockout victory over a passive Marcel Japtha at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in Port Elizabeth on Friday night to keep his newly won South African featherweight title. The 29-year-old Jubatha was simply too strong for Japtha despite being rocked late in the first round with a stiff left jab.

Known as ‘Lights Out’, Japtha came into the fight on a role after four straight victories – two of them by knockout. However, despite his early success, Japtha was reluctant to fight back with any conviction after eating a solid right midway through the second round and referee Steve Simon was left with no option but to call a halt to proceedings as one minute, 56 seconds of the round.

It was a disappointing effort from Japtha who seemed to lack the confidence to build on his first round success. Jubatha, who weighed 57.27 kg, improved his record to 6-1 (5 KO’s) while Japtha (56.93kg) slid to 7-2-1 (4 KO’s).

Jubatha won the title on December 18 last year when he stopped Luthando Vukuza in the tenth round and was making his first defence against Japtha who earned the right to fight for the belt with a points victory over Vusumzi Manyoni in November.

Undercard results
(KO=knockout; TKO=technical knockout)
Siviwe Ntsiko TKO 4 Siyabulela Kupiso (minimumweights)
Molefi Matima TKO 4 Siyabulela Ziqula (featherweights)
Unathi Jacobs KO 1 Clifford Smith (cruiserweights).

The tournament was jointly presented by S’Phatho Handi of Mamali Promotions and the Nelson Mandela Boxing Promoters.

Upcoming fights
Klaas Mboyane vs Nkqubela Gwazela (South African bantamweight title).
Live coverage on SuperSport 7 from 8pm.

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