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Posted on: Wednesday, 6 January 2010

South African Sports News – 6 January

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Hashim Amla

Hashim Amla

Proteas in commanding position at Newlands
South Africa was in a good position against England at tea on the third day of the third test at Newlands yesterday. The home side were 183 runs ahead of the visitors as skipper Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla (pictured) batted for the entire afternoon session leading up till the tea interval. The Proteas notched up 109 runs between lunch and tea as they reached an impressive 165/1.

Smith and Amla’s partnership stood at 134 and was the first century stand of the match. Smith was unbeaten on 65 at the interval, with Amla having surpassed his captain to go to the break on 73 not out. Amla was somewhat lucky to get away with a couple of thick edges, but he also punished the England bowlers on numerous occasions and played some attractive strokes all around the ground …

Smith, although offering a number of chances, batted with more resilience and composure than he has displayed in recent innings, and the South African camp will be hoping that their captain will go on to record a big score against the English. Earlier, Smith and Amla took the Proteas to 56/1 at the lunch break, after the South Africans got rid of the last three England batsmen in just over six overs in the morning.

With the English seven down and 50 behind overnight, the Proteas realised the importance of mopping up the tail quickly on the following morning, particularly with the mercury set to rise into the high thirties on the day. Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn did not disappoint their team-mates as the imposing Morkel removed Graeme Swann and James Anderson with successive balls in the opening over of the day.

Smith snapped up both men at first slip as they failed to ward off rising deliveries from the towering speedster.  Matt Prior managed to get England to within 18 of South Africa’s first-innings score of 291 before Steyn bowled him for a well-played 76. England’s top scorer dragged an attempted pull shot onto his stumps, bringing the innings to an end on 273. Smith and Ashwell Prince then got the Proteas off to a reasonable start, before the out of form opener was trapped leg before for 15 by England spinner Graeme Swann. Amla then joined Smith and the duo quickly set about building a platform for their team to win the match over the remaining two days.

South Africa are 1-0 down in the four match series after drawing the opening test at SuperSport Park in Centurion and then suffering a humiliating defeat by an innings and 98 runs in the second test at Kingsmead in Durban. Although many players under performed in the Durban test, fast bowler Makhaya Ntini was singled out as the main culprit for the loss and was promptly dropped from the team for the Newlands test. The 32-year-old paceman was replaced by Friedal de Wet who made a successful debut in the Centurion test before making way for the returning Steyn in Durban. The fourth and final test takes place at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on January 14.

Lefa Tsutsulupa

Lefa Tsutsulupa

Birds run Bundesliga champions close
Moroka Swallows can still lift their heads up high despite losing 2-1 to Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg in their Volkswagen Challenge Trophy match played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium on Monday night. Their more skilful opponents outplayed the Birds, who are striving to finish in the Premier Soccer League’s top eight this season, during the opening 30 minutes.

However, Swallows responded well to the pressure and were back in the match when their captain Lefa Tsutsulupa (pictured right) made it 2-1 from close range.  Wolfsburg started off strongly and went ahead as early as the eighth minute when defender Sascha Riether scored from inside the penalty area. The Bundesliga outfit went 2-0 up after 17 minutes when their star striker, Edin Dzeko, capitalised on a defensive blunder by Ashraf Hendricks, which opened the way for the eagle eyed Bosnian international to steer the ball home.
Wolfsburg seemed to relax after Dzeko’s goal and Swallows took advantage of their complacency to get back into the game.

After threatening their opponents goal on numerous occasions, the Birds eventually opened their account when Tsutsulupa fired home Phaladi Kobolo’s cross from inside the six yard box in the 43rd minute. Swallows continued their resurgence in the second half when their teenage striker Augustine Leonard came close to netting an equaliser, only to narrowly miss Tsutsulupa’s free kick at the near post.

The Birds continued to push hard for the equaliser in the second half, but were unable to find the back of the net, although substitute Ace Bhengu had a well aimed corner cleared off the goal line just seven minutes from time. In the end Wolfsburg’s greater experience helped them to resist a strong second half challenge from Swallows and run out 2-1 winners.

Francois Botha

Francois Botha

Big bout rescheduled for February
Former International Boxing Federation (IBF) and current World Boxing Foundation (WBF) heavyweight champion Francois ‘The White Buffalo’ Botha (47-4-3; 28 KO’s) will have to wait another month before swapping leather with American legend Evander ‘The Real Deal’ Holyfield (42-10-2; 27 KO’s).

The South African veteran was scheduled to face the former undisputed world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion on January 16 in Kampala, Uganda. However, the fight will now take place on February 20 to give the boxers and organisers more time to prepare, the promoters said on Monday. “We have realised that we need more time to publicise the event regionally and worldwide, and also to give the fighters ample time to prepare themselves,” said Pro Box Promotions manager Eddie Bazira. “I assure the world that the fight will take place,” he added.

The 12 round bout, which will be for the vacant World Boxing Federation (also WBF) belt is expected to draw a capacity crowd of 80 000 spectators. Holyfield, a former four-time world heavyweight champion who has won only five of his last 12 contests, has not fought since being outpointed by Russian giant Nikolai Valuev a year ago in a bid for the World Boxing Association (WBA) crown.

Botha (pictured right) drew with Pedro Carrion of Cuba in his last bout, which was held in Germany in October.
Despite earning more than R1.6 billion in the ring, Holyfield has twice faced foreclosure on his estate in suburban Atlanta over a default on a R80 million loan. Although his financial problems have since eased, Holyfield has to return to facing more credible opponents than Botha, who stepped back in the ring in July 2007 after a five-year layoff. Holyfield was once at the top of the sport, but consecutive losses to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald sent his career into a tailspin, and he quit the ring for 21 months before returning in August 2006 to begin a run of four straight wins before suffering points defeats to Sultan Ibragimov and Valuev.

Botha briefly held the IBF title in 1995, but has since been defeated by former world champions Michael Moorer, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. “I have always been my own harshest critic. My performance against Carrion, without making any excuses, was arguably the worst of my career,” said Botha. “Expect the fittest, toughest and best ever, and extremely serious, Francois Botha in Uganda in February. I owe my fans and members of Team Botha the performance of my life. I intend to make good on that,” he added.

I am looking forward to going to Uganda and I expect a tough fight against Francois Botha,” said Holyfield. “I am going to win and I will cherish the WBF world title,” he added.

Con de Lange

Con de Lange

De Lange and du Preez bowl Eagles to victory
Con de Lange (pictured) and Dillon du Preez each snared three wickets to steer the Chevrolet Diamond Eagles to a 30-run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors in their MTN40 match at St George’s in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. Left-arm spinner De Lange boasted figures of three for 21 off eight overs while seamer Du Preez recorded three for 33 off 5.2 overs as the Eagles, who amassed 221 for nine, dismissed the home side for 191 in 37.2 overs.

On a pitch that became slower as the match progressed, opening batsman Justin Kreusch was the only Warriors batsman to occupy the crease for any length of time as the right-hander notched up 82 runs off 104 balls.  Kreusch, whose innings included nine fours and a six, was the last man to fall when he was bowled by Du Preez.

The Warriors’ opening pair of Jon-Jon Smuts and Kreusch put on 50 runs for the first wicket before Rilee Rossouw caught Smuts at backward point off Du Preez. Colin Ingram (13) didn’t hang around too long as he was run out by a fine throw from De Lange at short fine leg. Things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as De Lange wrecked havoc in their middle-order to effectively win the game for the Eagles.

The 28-year-old spinner got rid of Arno Jacobs (six), Davey Jacob (three) and Johan Botha (five) as the home crashed to 99 for five before Nicky Boje (18) and Kreusch added 43 runs for the sixth wicket to stabilise the innings. However, once Du Preez bowled Boje, the Warriors’ resistance crumbled as they lost their last five wickets for just 49 runs.

Earlier, 24-year-old paceman Rusty Theron tore through the Eagles’ middle-order to end the innings with career-best equalling limited-overs figures of four for 33 off seven overs. Ryan Bailey top scored for the Eagles compiling a valuable 67 off 70 balls, which lifted the Eagles out of the doldrums after the visitors found themselves at a precarious 99 for five in the 22nd over.

On a hot and blustery afternoon the Eagles won the toss and elected to bat and soon made a promising start courtesy of a 41-run opening partnership from Morne van Wyk (43) and Reeza Hendricks (12). Hendricks was the first to go when he was run out by a direct hit from Ingram in the covers. Rossouw and Boeta Dippenaar could only muster nine runs apiece before Van Wyk, who produced some sparkling shots, became the second batsman to be run out.

The right-hander departed courtesy of a superb piece of fielding from the agile Smuts at backward point. Smuts dived full length to his right to stop the ball before his powerful and accurate throw to ‘keeper Davey Jacobs found Van Wyk short of the crease.  Dean Elgar (12) succumbed to the spin of Boje before Bailey and De Lange (34) provided some stability with a sixth-wicket partnership that yielded 71 precious runs. De Lange was bowled neck and crop by Theron with Johan van der Wath (one) following suit shortly thereafter. Theron then had Du Preez (13) caught at deep extra cover to complete his four-wicket haul.

Scores in brief
Eagles: 221/9
Warriors: 191
Result: Eagles won by 30 runs

Other MTN 40 results
December
22: Nashua Titans beat the Eagles by four wickets.
23: Nashua Cape Cobras beat the bizhub Highveld Lions by four wickets.
26: Lions beat the Warriors by five wickets.
27: Cobras beat the Titans by 21 runs
30: Cobras beat the Eagles by 115 runs and the Titans beat the Warriors by two wickets.

Nashua Titans

Nashua Titans

Titans and Cobras way out in front
Despite the Diamond Eagles’ excellent 30 run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors at St George’s Park on Saturday, the MTN40 Championship is matching up to be a two horse race between the Nashua Titans (pictured) and Nashua Cape Cobras with both teams currently in fine fettle. The Titans top the log with 23 points closely followed by the Cobras who have 19 points. The remaining four teams, the Eagles (nine points), Warriors (eight points), Nashua Dolphins (also eight points), and bizhub Highveld Lions (four points) are way off the pace.

However, since the championship is ultimately decided on a knockout basis and not on who topped the log at the end of the season, all of these teams still have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals and ultimately the final on January 29.

Upcoming fixtures
Today
Lions vs Eagles – Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg: 4.15pm
Dolphins vs Cobras – Kingsmead, Durban: 4.15pm

Friday
Dolphins vs Lions – Kingsmead, Durban: 4.15pm
Eagles vs Cobras – Diamond Oval, Kimberley: 4.15pm
Titans vs Warriors – SuperSport Park, Centurion: 4.15pm

Sunday
Eagles vs Warriors – OUTsurance Oval, Bloemfontein: 10.00am
Titans vs Dolphins – Willowmoore Park, Benoni: 10.00am

Giniel de Villiers

Giniel de Villiers

Giniel’s title hopes under threat
Giniel de Villiers’ chances of successfully defending his Dakar Rally title were dealt a serious blow on Monday when the South African’s Volkswagen Touareg suffered mechanical problems.  De Villiers (pictured) and crewmate Dirk von Zitzewitz were forced to stop and wait for the support truck for assistance after their five-cylinder diesel-powered vehicle developed engine problems.

Volkswagen maintained its position in the front running group on the third leg of the rally with the Touareg crews of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford ranking in positions two to four in the world’s most extreme desert rally.

The overall lead belongs to Monday’s stage winners Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret from the X-raid BMW team. On the 182km special stage from La Rioja to Fiambala in Argentina, the rally’s level of difficulty increased significantly with drivers having to negotiate scree passages, soft sand and high dunes. Sainz, who managed to set a best stage time of 3hrs, 1min and 3secs, recorded an average speed of just 60.315 km/h on the stage.

Alfie Cox and Jürgen Schröder (Nissan Navara) overcame a puncture and fuel pump problems to finish seventh on the stage. Their courageous effort helped them to seventh place overall in the car category. De Villiers and fellow South Africans Cox and Pitchford have done their country proud on the Dakar so far, and it would be a pity if mechanical problems were to put an end to De Villiers’ chances of retaining his title.

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