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Posted on: Wednesday, 31 March 2010

South African Sports News – 31 March

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Gert Schalkwyk

Gert Schalkwyk

Bafana camp a success – Parreira
Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira believes the first two weeks of his team’s training camp in Brazil have been successful. The South Africans are in the South American country on a month-long preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which starts in June.

They have played seven matches on their Brazilian tour so far, winning five and drawing two. Bafana defeated a stubborn Ponte Preta outfit 2-1 in their most recent outing, which took place at the Estadio Moises Lucarelli in Campinas, Sao Paolo last Wednesday. Goals from midfielder Surprise Moriri and substitute Gert Schalkwyk (pictured) set up the victory for the visitors …

“This is a very important camp in that I am able to get a clearer view of all the players who are here. I am not looking at their play only, also the off-the-field behaviour. We haven’t had any problems with any of the players, so the discipline is there,” said Parreira. Even though everything has been going according to plan despite a punishing schedule that involves a lot of travelling, Bafana have managed to settle well, especially off the field. However, on the field there are still some challenges.

“We need to work on keeping the ball. It is improving but it takes times to get used to the system. In any case we should not be ready now, but by the end of May, we don’t want to peak too early,” Parreira explained. “Despite scoring 15 goals and conceding only one, finding the back of the net remains a big problem – but it’s a challenge of the country as a whole because this is happening at the league level so it becomes a struggle as well in the national team,” added the coach.

Without singling out anyone, Parreira has been impressed by the youngsters in the team, but he is still trying to decide whether to take them with to the World Cup or not. He adds that he might bring one or two just for experience saying, “youngsters can help you win one match, but experienced players will come in handy and will be able to sustain the team when the pressure is on.”

After this camp, Bafana will take a break for a couple of days before travelling to Germany which Parreira says will be a continuation of the Brazil camp with very little differences. Parreira stated that there are several international friendly matches being negotiated as part of Bafana’s preparations for the World Cup, but added that the South African Football Association (SAFA) will make the announcement of the matches once confirmation has been received.

However, it has already been confirmed that Bafana’s next match will be against Paraguay in Asuncion tomorrow. The match against the South Americans is bound to bring out both the best and the worst that Bafana has to offer and Parreira is under no illusions as to the challenge his side are facing. “Of course this match will be difficult in that we are playing another national team, but it will be a good test for my boys,” he said. Kickoff is at 2.50am South African time.

Meanwhile, in action on home shores, the Telkom Knockout competition is nearing the closing stages after weekend quarter-final matches saw Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and AmaZulu all advance to the last four.

Results (from left to right)
Chiefs 1 – Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Pirates 2 – Jomo Cosmos 1
Ajax 2 – Golden Arrows 1
AmaZulu 2 – SuperSport United 2 (AmaZulu won 4-1 on a penalty shoot out after the teams were deadlocked after full time).

Semi-final match-ups
Saturday
AmaZulu vs Ajax – Seisa Ramabodu Stadium – 8.15pm
Monday
Pirates vs Chiefs – Moses Mabhida Stadium – 3pm

Sampie Mastriet

Sampie Mastriet

Sloppy Blitsbokke disappoint in Hong Kong
Australia defeated South Africa 12-5 in the Plate Final of the IRB Sevens tournament in Hong Kong on Sunday courtesy of some poor discipline and equally poor play from the Blitsbokke. In an error-strewn game the South Africans fell behind 0-7 after nine minutes after Robbie Coleman scored a converted try for the Aussies.

However, the men in green and gold struck back almost immediately with a sniping run by Frankie Horne setting up a good ball that they took wide for Sampie Mastriet (pictured in green jersey) to round the defence with blinding pace and deceptive body movement (5-7). The Blitsbokke could have gone ahead just before half time after they won a lineout close to the Australian line, but they squandered a near-certain try with a silly knock-on.

The second half was a tight affair with neither side giving an inch, but when the Aussies conceded a penalty right in front of the posts it seemed like the Blitsbokke would take the lead. However, Cecil Afrika made a mess of the kick and when the Australians scored a try (5-12) after the Boks had knocked on yet again, Paul Treu’s men had no time to stage a fight back as the final whistle sounded. The South Africans had qualified for the Plate Final after beating Kenya for the second time in the tournament.

“We’re doing the playing but making too many mistakes and dropping the ball at crucial moments,” said coach Treu after the game. “We’ve got a young side and we’re taking the big sides to close wins for us, but those mistakes keep on costing us. It’s a hard learning curve for the youngsters,” he added.

Samoa defeated New Zealand 24-21 in the final and they now lead the IRB Sevens Series with two tournaments remaining. In the Bowl final, Canada beat Wales 35-19 while Hong Kong edged Russia 19-17 in the Shield final.

Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

Bulls survive early scare to down Force
The Vodacom Bulls maintained their unbeaten record in this year’s Super 14 competition when they scored an unconvincing 28-15 victory over the Western Force at the ME Bank Stadium in Perth on Saturday. Despite their win the Bulls looked everything but the best side in the tournament, as they had to fight back from a two-point deficit at half time to secure victory.

Although the Pretoria Accommodation outfit failed to get the bonus point for four tries their victory put them five points clear at the top of the log after six rounds. The Bulls made a confident start but the Force defended bravely to keep Victor Matfield’s men in check, although they did leak a try as early as the 10th minute when No 8 Pierre Spies (pictured) barged his way over the line after a sustained period of pressure.

However, with Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn missing two of his first three penalty attempts, and with the visitors showing limited attacking options, the Force managed to keep it loose – and when referee Nathan Pearce started awarding a string of penalties to the home side, James O’Connor made no mistake with the goal kicks to give the Force an unexpected half-time lead of 12-10.

The pattern continued after the re-start when O’Connor landed his fifth penalty forcing the Bulls to tighten up their game and resort to their tried and tested formula of retaining possession courtesy of their excellent forward pack. After another period of sustained pressure the Bulls were rewarded with their second try when Steyn dived over the line in the 56th minute.

The Force, in their efforts to contain the Bulls, then attracted a warning from the referee for straying across the line and when Ryan Cross was yellow carded in the 63rd minute, the momentum had swung in favour of the visitors. Fullback Zane Kirchner went over for the Bulls’ third try in the 66th minute and with Steyn suddenly rediscovering his goal kicking form the visitors had managed to open up a 13 point gap on the home side, effectively ending the game as a contest.

However, the Force did manage to deny the Bulls a bonus point try and did enough to show that perhaps the Bulls are not the champions they have been touted as. The concerns of the previous game against the Hurricanes were again brought to the fore as the Bulls slipped into a predictable style of play, while their first time tackling was not up to scratch.

Nevertheless the men in blue are still unbeaten in the competition, having won all six of their games and missing only two bonus points in the process. They are now five points clear at the top of the log and will travel to Auckland confident of seeing off the challenge of the Blues, their next opponents.

Scorers
Bulls 28 – Tries: Pierre Spies, Morne Steyn, Zane Kirchner. Conversions: Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (3).
Force 15 – Penalties: James O`Connor (5).

Other results (left to right; SA teams in bold)
Friday
Highlanders 39 – Lions 29 – Dunedin
Brumbies 30 – Chiefs 23 – Canberra
Cheetahs 10 – Reds 31 – Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Saturday
Hurricanes 26 – Sharks 29 – Wellington
Waratahs 39 – Blues 32 – Sydney

The pick of this week’s upcoming fixtures as far as local teams are concerned could well be the clash between the resurgent Sharks and the in-form Reds at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Friday evening. Both teams scored excellent victories in their last outings and will be looking to continue on their winning ways as the competition enters its second phase.

Fixtures (SA teams in bold)
Friday
Hurricanes vs Crusaders – Wellington – 8.35am
Western Force vs Vodacom Stormers – Perth – 12:05pm
Saturday
Blues vs Vodacom Bulls – Auckland – 6.30am
Chiefs vs Highlanders – Mt Maunganui – 8.35am
Waratahs vs Vodacom Cheetahs – Sydney – 10:40am
The Sharks vs Reds – The Absa Stadium Durban – 5:05pm

Stiaan van Zyl

Stiaan van Zyl

Cobras clinch SuperSport championship
The Nashua Cape Cobras’ recorded an emphatic innings and 117 run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors at Sahara Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday to clinch the 2009/10 SuperSport Series championship. The Cobras were simply far too strong for the Warriors in all departments of the game and cruised to victory with a day to spare.

The Warriors posted a dismal 110 all out in their first innings with only three of their batsmen reaching double figures. The destroyer in chief was medium pacer Vernon Philander who snared 5/40 off his 15 overs while left arm spinner Robin Peterson provided valuable support with 2/18 off 11 overs.

In response, the Cobras posted 369 all out off 103.3 overs with Stiaan van Zyl (pictured) scoring an impressive 167 not out off 307 deliveries, which included 21 boundaries. There were also useful contributions from former Proteas player Justin Ontong (44 off 60 balls) and Ryan Canning (31 off 58 deliveries) but it was Van Zyl’s excellent effort that set up the victory for the visitors.

Facing a huge first innings deficit of 259 runs the Warriors were always going to struggle and it came as no surprise when they quickly succumbed to the Cobras’ varied bowling attack to be dismissed for just 142 in their second innings. Peterson was the main wicket taker on this occasion grabbing 5/41 off 16.5 overs with Rory Kleinveldt and Johann Louw each picking up two sticks.

It was a very disappointing effort from the Warriors who won both the Standard Bank Pro20 and MTN40 championships, but showed little resolve in the longer version of the game to finish fifth on the log on 83.12 points, just 7.94 points ahead of the bottom placed Nashua Dolphins. The Cobras ended the competition with a handsome haul of 130.72 points – 18.44 points ahead of the second placed Nashua Titans who finished on 112.28 points.

Scores in Brief
Warriors: 110 & 142 all out
Cobras: 369 all out
Result: Cobras won by an innings and 117 runs
Man of the match: Stiaan van Zyl

Other Results
The bizhub Highveld Lions beat the Dolphins by 10 wickets at Kingsmead in Durban.
The Titans beat the Diamond Eagles by two wickets at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

Nkosinathi Joyi

Nkosinathi Joyi

Brilliant Joyi captures IBF crown
Nkosinathi Joyi (pictured left) is the new International Boxing Federation (IBF) mini-flyweight champion of the world. In a contest between southpaws, the diminutive South African captured the title with a unanimous points victory over tough Mexican Raul Garcia in East London’s new International Convention Centre on Friday evening.

It was a dominant performance from the 27-year-old Joyi (47.04 kg) who gave Garcia (47kg) a boxing lesson to run out a clear winner by scores of 119-109 (twice) and 118-110. Joyi demonstrated his superiority in every department throughout the 12 rounds and truth be told Garcia (also 27) was never in the fight although he hung on grimly to survive to the final bell.

The South African’s blinding hand speed and powerful punches had the defending champion in trouble from as early as the opening round and after six round of action it was clear as to who the winner would be. Garcia simply didn’t have the power to keep the relentless Joyi at bay and when the challenger opened up a nasty cut over the champion’s right eye in the fifth round, the writing was on the wall for the Mexican.

However, to his credit, Garcia never quit as a lesser fighter may have done and proceeded to take his lumps like a man as Joyi pounded him from pillar to post for the remaining seven rounds. Joyi, who hails from nearby Mdantsane, ran his record to a perfect 21-0 with 15 knockouts while Garcia’s first defeat saw him fall to 27-1-1 (16 KO’s).

Joyi’s fight with Garcia was one of three IBF title challenges by South Africans that took place over the weekend, and whereas Joyi was successful, Takalani ‘The Panther’ Ndlovu and Ali ‘Rush Hour’ Funeka came away empty handed against more experienced international opponents.

The 32-year-old Ndlovu was de-clawed by veteran Steve Molitor who recaptured the IBF super-bantamweight title in Rama, Canada, on Saturday night with a unanimous decision. The Canadian triumphed by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 115-113 to improve his record to 32-1 with 12 knockouts while Ndlovu slid to 30-6, with 18 wins via the short route.  It was the 29-year-old Molitor’s second victory over Ndlovu whom he halted in nine rounds in 2007.

In a close battle for the vacant IBF lightweight title, Funeka dropped a 12 round split decision to Joan Guzman of the Dominican Republic in Las Vegas on Saturday night. However, Guzman was not crowned champion because he weighed in nearly four kilograms over the lightweight limit, which meant that it was only Funeka who could capture the title with a win.

The 33-year-old Guzman knocked Funeka down with a right to the temple in the sixth round, but the Mdantsane fighter quickly jumped up to indicate to both Guzman and the referee that he was not seriously hurt. Funeka then set about repairing the damage by digging punches to Guzman’s body, but the elusive veteran simply danced his way out of trouble and the round ended with Funeka looking frustrated.

The pattern continued for the rest of the fight as Funeka chased Guzman around the ring trying to pin his slippery foe on the ropes to land what he hoped would be fight ending punches. However, he was unsuccessful and in the end it was Guzman’s counter punching rather than Funeka’s persistent aggression that tipped the scales in his favour as the judges handed in verdicts of 114-113, 116-111 and 113-114 to proclaim him the winner. It was a dubious decision to put it mildly as Funeka clearly was the aggressor while Guzman was content to sit back and pot shot from the outside.

Guzman, who was fined $31 250 (R230 000) by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for coming in overweight, improved to 30-0-1 (17 KO’s) with the win while Funeka dropped to 30-3-3 (25 KO’s) after suffering his second loss in his last three outings. The fight was a rematch of the pair’s controversial November 2009 bout, which was ruled a draw despite Funeka pressing the action and looking for the entire world like a comfortable points winner.

Other results
(W=won on points, D=draw, TKO=technical knockout, KO=knockout)
At the Carousel in Hammanskraal on Saturday night
Kyle Bothma D4 Samson Ndlovu (lightweights)
Alex Mbaya TKO 8 Soon Botes (cruiserweights)
Ilunga Makabu TKO 2 Elvis Moyo (cruiserweights)
Johnny Muller D6 Wiseman Dlomo (heavyweights)
Anton Nel TKO 1 Pieter Cronje (South African heavyweight title eliminator)
At the Mdantsane Indoor Centre on Saturday night
Themba Joyi W12 Zolile Mbityi (South African junior bantamweight championship)

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