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Posted on: Wednesday, 28 April 2010

South African Sports News – 28 April

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Carlos Parreira

Carlos Parreira

Bafana to face ‘Reggae Boyz’ after China pull-out
World Cup hosts South Africa will play a warm-up match against Jamaica in Germany today after China, their initial opponents, suddenly withdrew. The hastily arranged game will take place at the Offenbach Kickers Stadium in Frankfurt (18.30 GMT) and comes as a welcome boost to a Bafana squad battling to find suitable opposition ahead of the 2010 spectacle.

Despite securing a fixture against the Jamaicans, South African officials say they will protest to global football governing body Fifa at China’s failure to honour their agreement to play against Bafana. Chinese officials have blamed the pullout on travel difficulties caused by the volcanic ash that severely disrupted European air traffic over the past few weeks.

Acting South African Football Association (Safa) chief executive Leslie Sedibe was furious after the latest blow for a host nation struggling to find suitable warm-up opposition ahead of the World Cup. “This is something that we will take up with Fifa because there is an agreement with the Chinese Football Association,” he said.

Bafana’s 0-0 draw with North Korea last week showed they still have a long way to go if they hope to make it through to the second round of the World Cup. If the South Africans are unable to score against teams such as North Korea then it’s extremely unlikely they would be able to find the back of the net against the likes of Mexico, Uruguay and France – their fellow group B competitors at the World Cup.

Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira (pictured) has been beset by fixture problems since he returned late last November for a second stint in charge of the second lowest ranked of the 32 World Cup teams, ahead only of North Korea. Since Parreira’s return Bafana have thumped a depleted Zimbabwe 3-0, laboured to a pair of unconvincing 1-1 draws against Namibia and Paraguay and then bored their fans to death with their dreadfully dull showing against the Koreans last Thursday. Nevertheless a good performance against Jamaica today will go a long way to easing Parreira’s nerves with the World Cup kick off just over six weeks away.

Bafana are also scheduled to host Colombia in May and Denmark six days before they begin their World Cup campaign against Mexico on June 11. If the South Africans can put together some good showings against these teams it will bode well for their World Cup chances, but it’s clear that things are currently not going according to plan.

In addition to the Denmark game Parreira was hoping to line up a match with Argentina at Soccer City on May 27, but negotiations fell through paving the way for the Colombians to take their place. However, Parreira would have preferred the Argentines to be Bafana’s opponents, as it would have provided him with a better yardstick to gauge his side’s progress. Columbia certainly cannot be classified as minnows, but are not in the same league as the twice world champions.

With only three international fixtures against moderate opposition lined up before their 2010 kick off, it seems as though fate is conspiring against Bafana’s World Cup hopes, but hopefully they will experience a change of fortune – and soon.

Mandla Masango

Mandla Masango

Underdogs FC Cape Town stun Chiefs
Minnows FC Cape Town produced a huge upset when they defeated Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 in a last 16 Nedbank Cup encounter at the Botshabelo Stadium, near Bloemfontein, on Sunday. The Telkom Knockout champions were surprised by a determined and well-organised FC outfit who had an answer for everything the Amakhosi threw at them on the day.

FC was particularly impressive in defence, employing the tactic of getting at least 10 men behind the ball when Chiefs had possession, which prevented the Amakhosi from finding sufficient space to launch meaningful attacks. In fact, Chiefs had to wait until the 25th minute for their first opportunity to score when Jose Torrealba put his shot over the bar from a tight angle.

However, by that stage Chiefs were already a goal behind after Lyle Lakay found the back of the net for FC in the 19th-minute. Lakay demonstrated impressive pace in exposing the Chiefs defence before finishing off the attack with a powerful, low-angled shot. Chiefs nearly equalised three minutes before the end of the first half, but FC keeper Thembalethu Moses was able to maintain his side’s 1-0 advantage by tipping Mthokozizi Yende’s 25-yard effort over the bar. The Soweto giants continued to make all the running after the restart, with the First Division team happy to sit back and absorb the pressure.

Chiefs almost equalised in the 50th minute but Torrelaba again failed to find the back of the net, dragging his shot over the bar for a second time. FC then increased their lead after 65 minutes when skipper Samuel Eboulle Bille made no mistake with his header from Lakay’s corner.

With time running out and Chiefs 2-0 behind, the Soweto outfit threw everything they had into attack, but Mandla Masango (pictured left) had a shot blocked by man-of-the-match Francois Adams while Abia Nale put his 78th-minute header over the bar. Undeterred, Chiefs continued to attack, but they were foiled by some outstanding saves from the athletic Moses who kept a clean sheet until the final whistle.

Results (From left to right)
Ajax Cape Town 1 – Free State Stars 1: Stars won 4-2 on penalties
Moroka Swallows 2 – AmaZulu 2: Amazulu won 6-2 on penalties
Jomo Cosmos 1 – University of Pretoria 1: University of Pretoria won 4-2 on penalties
FC Cape Town 2 – Kaizer Chiefs 0

Upcoming fixtures
Bidvest Wits vs Thanda Royal Zulu – Bidvest Stadium: 3.00pm
Orlando Pirates vs Als Puk Tawana – Orlando Stadium: 8.15pm
Sundowns vs Black Leopards – Rand Stadium: 3.00pm
Winners Park vs MP Black Aces – University of Limpopo: 3.00pm

Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith

Smith wary of lowly Afghanistan
Afghanistan, who have honed their cricket skills in a war zone, may pose more of a danger to South Africa in the Twenty20 World Cup than the leading nations, said captain Graeme Smith (pictured). The Proteas have been grouped with former champions India and new comers Afghanistan in Group C in the tournament, which begins on Friday in the West Indies.

“Afghanistan are a potential banana skin because they are unknown but they have a lot of talented cricketers, they’ve overtaken all the others in the minnow division. It’s going to be nerve-wracking playing them,” said Smith. “I read their opener (Karim Sadiq) said he was not scared of facing Dale Steyn and I wouldn’t be either if I grew up in a war zone. That’s the thing, they have no fear and they have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous,” added Smith.

While Smith and his teammates are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Indians, having played against them for years, Afghanistan will be a mystery package as the competition will be their first major international event. Smith said paceman Steyn could turn out to be his trump card as he has been in top form for the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which ended over the weekend. “Dale bowling so aggressively in the IPL was a major positive. He showed he can bowl at 150 kph and take wickets, and we can really use that sort of gem,” said the skipper.

South Africa are desperate to make amends for their shock semi-final exit last year, when they were beaten by eventual champions Pakistan, despite coming into the tournament as favourites. The Proteas begin their World Cup campaign against India in St Lucia on Sunday and then face Afghanistan in Barbados on Wednesday.

Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana

Reds edge Stormers in nailbiter
The Vodacom Stormers suffered only their third defeat in this year’s Super 14 competition when they went down 16-13 to a resilient and motivated Reds outfit in Brisbane on Friday.

The Stormers, fresh from their 49-15 drubbing of the Chiefs in Hamilton the previous Friday, put the Reds under intense early pressure and were rewarded when lock Andries Bekker bulldozed his way through a couple of tackles to crash over under the posts. Flyhalf Peter Grant made no mistake with the conversion to put the visitors 7-0 up after just a few minutes of play.

Schalk Burger’s men dominated proceedings throughout the opening quarter hour – the Reds clearly still feeling the effects of their bruising encounter against the Bulls the previous week. However, the Australian outfit displayed their usual grit and determination as they slowly but surely clawed their way back into the match.

Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper, who has been a thorn in the side of many teams in this year’s competition with his accurate goal kicking and incisive running, initiated the fight back when he slotted two penalties in quick succession to cut the deficit to just a solitary point (6-7) at the break. The strikes seemed to energise the home side who looked a totally different team at the beginning of the second half.

They began to take control up front and dominated both territory and possession, forcing the visitors to defend like Trojans just to stay in contention. The Reds went ahead for the first time in the match when Cooper banged over another penalty (9-7) and extended their lead a few minutes later when their classy No 10 put in a superbly placed crosskick at the left hand corner for left wing Will Chambers to gather and score a well-executed try. Cooper then slotted the touchline conversion to make it 16-7 in favour of the home side.

The Stormers quickly hit back with two penalties from Grant to reduce the deficit to just three points after 56 minutes (13-16). The last quarter of the match then proved to a thriller, as the visitors launched a series of strong attacks in their quest to pull off a victory.

However, a combination of stout defending and poor finishing resulted in the Stormers being unable to add to their score and the Reds were eventually able to relive the pressure and play their way back into Stormers territory in the closing minutes. This meant the only way the visitors could win was to score a very unlikely long-range try.

The Reds were having none of that though as they made a strong charge for their opponents line – scrumhalf Will Genia appearing to muscle his way over for a try only for Stormers wing Bryan Habana (pictured) to get his arm under the ball and prevent the Reds No 9 from grounding it. Undeterred, the home side retained possession and held on to run out narrow 16-13 winners.

However, Habana’s brilliant defensive effort, although not enough to stave off defeat, could be very important for the Stormers as it enabled the Cape outfit to secure a bonus point for finishing within seven. That point may prove invaluable in the Stormers’ quest for a semi-final berth as the competition rapidly draws to a close.

Reds 16 – Try: Will Chambers. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalties: Cooper (3).
Stormers 13 – Try: Andries Bekker. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalties: Grant (2).

At the conclusion of the weekend’s fixtures, the Stormers were in second position on the log with 34 points after 10 outings, five adrift of the Vodacom Bulls who thrashed the winless Lions 51-11 at Loftus Versveld on Saturday. The Crusaders and the Reds (both also on 34 points) are third and fourth respectively while the Waratahs are lying fifth on 33 points.

Other results (SA teams in bold)
Chiefs 25 – Cheetahs 25 – Hamilton
Western Force 24 – Crusaders 16 – Perth
Highlanders 31 – Hurricanes 33 – Dunedin
Waratahs 19 – Brumbies 12 – Sydney
The Sharks 23 – Blues 10 – Durban

With only three rounds of the competition remaining things are really beginning to hot up with all of the top 10 teams having a mathematical chance of making it to the semi-finals. The pick of this weekend’s fixtures is likely to be the encounter between the Bulls and the resurgent Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

The Bulls have been the form team in this year’s Super 14 with only two losses against eight wins while the Sharks are on a role after winning five games on the trot. However, despite the Sharks’ late revival, which included an excellent 23-10 over the Blues in Durban on Saturday, the Bulls must start as favourites on their home turf.

The Pretoria outfit are unbeaten in South Africa this season and with an incredibly powerful pack of forwards and the prodigious boot of flyhalf Morné Steyn, it’s not hard to see why. The Sharks will have to play out of their skins to have any hope of beating Victor Matfield’s men, but miracles do happen and the KwaZulu-Natalians will be hoping that the rugby gods are smiling upon them on Saturday.

The match kicks off at 7.10pm with coverage on SuperSport.

Other fixtures (SA teams in bold)
Highlanders vs Waratahs – Invercargill – 9.35am
Vodacom Stormers vs Crusaders – Cape Town – 7.10pm
Hurricanes vs Chiefs – Wellington – 9.35am
Brumbies vs Reds – Canberra – 11.40am
Cheetahs vs Blues – Bloemfontein – 3.00pm
Lions vs Western Force – Johannesburg – 5.05pm

Brutal Taliwe destroys Joubert to retain title
Sipho ‘Tsunami’ Taliwe was at his brutal best at the Wembley Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Friday night when he crushed previously unbeaten Warren ‘The Warrior’ Joubert to easily retain his South African junior lightweight championship. The fearsome punching Taliwe (58.9 kg) dished out a savage beating to Joubert (58.78 kg) who was thoroughly outclassed, despite entering the ring as a slight favourite. The Johannesburg resident was simply unable to avoid the 28-year-old Taliwe’s damaging punches thanks largely to his virtually non-existent head movement and poor strategy.

Joubert (also 28) rushed straight towards the champion throwing only a single jab at a time and then hoping to land power punches after it. However, against a fighter with superior hand and foot speed like Taliwe, this strategy proved to be a recipe for disaster. Virtually every time Joubert attacked his foe he was beaten to the punch and after just two rounds of action his face was already swollen and bloodied. Taliwe, who hails from Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape, simply couldn’t miss his target as he landed power punch after power punch on his hapless opponent.

After sustaining more punishment and taking a trip to the canvas in the next round it was clear that the challenger was on a hiding to nothing, yet both Joubert’s corner and the referee allowed proceedings to continue, setting the stage for the bout’s brutal conclusion.

With just over two minutes gone in the fourth, Taliwe landed a thunderous overhand right to the side of Joubert’s head, which sent him crashing face first into the ropes. The badly hurt challenger somehow managed to drag himself to his feet before referee Thabo Spampool reached the count of 10, but by that stage Joubert’s handlers had finally seen enough and threw in the towel.

The stoppage resulted in wild and peculiar celebrations on the part of Taliwe who curiously gyrated around the ring like a belly dancer. The champion improved his record to 11-2 (10 KO’s) with the victory while Joubert suffered his first loss as a professional to slide to 16-1-1 (also with 10 KO’s).

The heavy-hitting Taliwe clearly has a bright future in the sport, but will have to learn to throw more jabs to set up his power punches rather than just throw them as leads. Against a fighter with a virtually non-existent defence like Joubert, this flaw was not exposed. However, if Taliwe hopes to campaign successfully on the international scene he will have to concentrate on executing the basics of combination punching correctly.

For Joubert the future seems bleak and retirement would seem a wise option. The Johannesburg resident looked like a rank amateur on Friday evening and one wonders what he really has learnt under the tutelage of Nick Durandt – a trainer who is known for producing aggressive and well conditioned fighters –albeit ones that often lack proper defensive skills.

Undercard results
(W = points victory; D= draw; KO = knockout; TKO = technical knockout)
Rafaiwai Maema W4 Mpho Babe (junior lightweights)
Michael van Heerden KO 4 Bongani Mlotshwa (junior middleweights)
Reggie Hilmer of Future Promotions presented the tournament.

Meanwhile, in another battle for a national title, this time in East London, Sikhulile Sidzumo won the vacant junior welterweight crown when he defeated Mzolisi Yoyo on a split decision on Sunday. In a rather dull fight, Sidzumo triumphed by scores of 117-111 and 115-114 on two cards with another judge deciding on a 115-113 verdict for Yoyo.

Sidzumo (63.30 kg) appeared tense and was reluctant to fully commit on attack during the first six rounds, while Yoyo (also 63.30 kg) spent most of the bout back pedalling and was reprimanded for holding on occasions by referee Lulama Mtya.

The powerfully built Sidzumo (17-3-4; 11 KO’s) increased his work rate from round seven onwards and possibly did enough to win rounds eight, nine, ten and eleven. However, he appeared to tire in the last stanza, allowing Yoyo (11-4; 8 KO’s) to possibly shade the round. It was a well-deserved victory for Sidzumo who clearly was the more aggressive and busier fighter.

Undercard results
Luzuko Siyo TKO 4 Simphiwe Konco (strawweights)
Zola Mditshwa D4 Mzuvukile Dingaan (junior bantamweights)
Aphiwe Mboyiya W4 Khayalethu Ngesi (junior featherweights)
Sizwe Yolo TKO 2 Jerry Essau (junior lightweights)
Ayanda Yaphi W6 Mbuyiseli Besta (junior lightweights)
Viwe Ndetyeni W6 Samkelo Fani (lightweights)

Mzi Mnguni of Eyethu Promotions presented the tournament.

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