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Posted on: Wednesday, 7 April 2010

South African Sports News – 7 April

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Katlego Mphela

Katlego Mphela

Bafana return home in good shape
Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is confident that his team’s preparations for the upcoming World Cup in June are going well despite Bafana going down 2-1 to Brazilian league side Santos on Saturday in the final match of their Brazilian training camp. The camp started on Sunday, March 7 and ended with the loss to Santos over the weekend, but on the whole Bafana got the better of their opposition winning four games, drawing three and losing just one during their four week stay in the South American country.

While in Brazil Bafana scored 15 goals and conceded just four although it must be mentioned that only one of those games was an international match (a 1-1 draw with Paraguay in Asuncion on April 1) raising doubts as to just how far Bafana have really come since their disappointing 1-1 draw with minnows Nambia in Durban on March 3.

Katlego Mphela (pictured) scored the only goal for Bafana against Santos in Sao Paolo on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to save the visitors from suffering their first defeat of the tour as strikes from Marcelo and Breitner sealed the win for the home team.

Nevertheless Parreira said the Brazil training camp was a worthwhile assignment for his technical team and the players. “It was a very positive outing, we learnt a lot during our time here. We played Brazil teams who helped us in our mission to get our team where we wanted it to be. We trained a lot, travelled a lot and played almost everywhere – and that’s good for mental strength,” explained Parreira.

“The important thing for me was to get the fitness levels up to World Cup standards, and to give the team some shape as well. I was also looking at the off the field behaviour, and I was impressed with the players – they were focussed, disciplined and showed commitment to the course. So I am very satisfied with the overall outcome, the future looks good,” added Parreira.

Bafana returned to South Africa on Monday, but will travel to Germany this coming Monday for the next training camp which will last just over two weeks. “Germany is the continuation of what we did here in Brazil. We have organised three games there, but we will first start with intensive training like we did when we got to Granja Comary in Teresopolis,” explained Parreira.

“I’ve noticed that since we arrived in Brazil, the confidence of the players on the ball has improved tremendously and now I am positive that with two camps left – Germany and South Africa – we can achieve more. The mental strength of the players is also high,” added the coach who said that the squad for the German camp would be announced tomorrow.

Bafana’s results in Brazil
Versus Volta Redonda; drew 0-0
Versus Fluminense; won 8-0
Versus Boavista; won 2-0
Versus Ponte Preta; won 2-1
Versus Cruzeiro; drew 0-0
Versus Botafogo; won 1-0
Versus Paraguay; drew 1-1
Versus Santos; lost 1-2

JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

Sharks edge Reds to keep Super 14 hopes alive
The Sharks produced a courageous performance to narrowly defeat an in form Reds team 30-28 in a pulsating encounter at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening. John Plumtree’s team were made to work hard for their victory against the determined Australian outfit that had won their last three encounters and were looking to make it four in a row on Saturday. However, it was not to be as the Sharks hung on to secure their third consecutive victory despite being outscored by four tries to three.

Ruan Pienaar opened the scoring with a penalty, but the exceptionally talented Quade Cooper, who jinked his way through the Sharks defence for the first try of the match, quickly cancelled it out. The Reds flyhalf started most of the visitors’ attacking moves during the match and kept the Sharks guessing at all times.

Nevertheless Pienaar’s accurate goal kicking kept the Sharks in contention, and his third penalty of the match put his side in front after 20 minutes. However, just when it seemed like the home side were going to step on the gas they inexplicably began to relax, paving the way for two further Reds tries from hard running centre Will Chambers.

This meant that the visitors had secured a commanding 21-9 lead going into the interval and it looked like they were going to run away with the match in the remaining 40 minutes. However, the Sharks had a surprise in store for the Reds as they produced a spirited second half performance to turn the match in their favour.

The Sharks, clearly superbly motivated after what was no doubt a tongue lashing from coach Plumtree during the half time interval, upped their game considerably after the restart and Pienaar quickly set about reducing the deficit by landing a string of penalties after a series of infringements from the Reds.

The home side then applied more pressure on the visitors and it came as no surprise when right wing Odwa Ndungane dotted down to score a converted try to bring the Sharks to within five points. The KwaZulu-Natalian outfit then took the lead when Jacques Botes barged over the line and they went further ahead after left wing JP Pietersen (pictured left) dived over under the posts after a strong run from Willem Alberts had softened up the Reds defence.

However, if the Sharks thought that the Reds were finished they were sadly mistaken as the visitors fought back through an excellent try from prop Greg Holmes who held on to a pass from Cooper to fall over the line. The Reds had now closed the gap to just two points and it looked as though they might well pull off a win, but the Sharks cleverly retained possession in the remaining minutes to deny the visitors a victory.

It was a good win for the Sharks who have fought their way back into the competition after a disastrous start, which saw them lose their opening five games. However, the victory came at a price with livewire No 8 Ryan Kankowski breaking a thumb meaning he will be unavailable for the rest of the competition.

Plumtree, although no doubt pleased that his side managed to secure the win, will be well aware that his team still have lots of hard work to do if they hope to salvage their campaign and make it through to the semi-finals. To achieve this the Sharks will have to win as many of their remaining games as possible and hope that the top sides enjoy a poor run of form going into the second phase of the competition.

The Sharks have a bye this weekend with their next outing being against the Lions next Saturday.

Sharks 30: Tries – Odwa Ndungane, Jacques Botes, JP Pietersen. Conversions – Ruan Pienaar (3). Penalties – Pienaar (3).
Reds 28: Tries – Will Chambers (2), Quade Cooper, Greg Holmes. Conversions – Cooper (4).

Other results (SA teams in bold)
Hurricanes 26 – Crusaders 26 – Wellington
Western Force 16 –Stormers 15 – Perth
Blues 32 –Bulls 17 – Auckland
Chiefs 27 – Highlanders 21 – Mt Maunganui
Waratahs 40 –Cheetahs 17 – Sydney

The pick of this weekend’s fixtures could well be Friday’s clash between the Bulls and the Chiefs who enjoyed contrasting fortunes on Saturday. The Bulls suffered their first defeat of the competition when they went down 32-17 to the Blues in Auckland while the Chiefs defeated the Highlanders 27-21 at Mount Maunganui.

The Bulls, who have dropped to second place in the standings following their loss to the Blues, will be desperate to get back on track with a win over the sixth placed Chiefs in Hamilton, and will be relying heavily on the boot of flyhalf Morne Steyn and their powerful pack of forwards to achieve victory.

Other fixtures (SA teams in bold)
Highlanders vs Western Force – Queenstown – 4.30am
Blues vs Stormers – Auckland – 7.30am
Crusaders vs Waratahs – Christchurch – 9.35am
Brumbies vs Cheetahs – Canberra – 11.40am
Lions vs Reds – Johannesburg – 7.10pm

Stanton Lewis

Stanton Lewis

Ajax and Amakhosi to square off in Durban
It has been announced that the Absa Stadium in Durban will host Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final between Ajax Cape Town and Kaizer Chiefs. Premier Soccer League CEO, Kjetil Siem, confirmed this shortly after Monday’s semi-final between Orlando Pirates and Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which the Amakhosi eventually won 3-0 on penalties.

“We explored all our options before coming up with this venue. We would’ve loved to have scheduled the final for a World Cup venue, but due to maintenance on the pitches, this was proving to be a challenge. Nevertheless Durban have always proven to be good hosts and we expect a great final,” explained Siem.

Ajax qualified for the final with a 2-0 victory over AmaZulu at the Seisa Ramabodu stadium on Saturday. Goals from Stanton Lewis (pictured right) and Nathan Paulse secured the win for the Cape outfit who will be confident of pulling off a win against the Amakhosi on Saturday.

The match kicks off at 8.15pm and will be televised live on SuperSport 4 (SS4) from 7.30pm. Further details regarding ticket sales for the final will be announced soon.

Lusapho April

Lusapho April

Lusapho takes Two Oceans 21.1km honours
Lesotho’s Mabuthile Lebopo won the 41st Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in fine style in Cape Town on Saturday morning in a fast time of three hours, six minutes and 18 seconds to lead home countrymen Moeketsi Mosuhli and Teboho Sello who finished second and third respectively.

With the leaders reaching the 28km halfway mark in just 92 minutes, it looked like a fast time was on the cards, but when early pacemaker Johannes Kekana was reeled in and passed by a squad of Lesotho athletes that included Sello, Lebenya Nkoka, Lebopo and brother Warinyane it seemed as though all was lost.

Only a trio of Lesotho athletes remained when the bunch broke through Constantia Nek, but at the top of the Nek it was Sello and Lebopo who stepped on the gas on their way through and past Kirstenbosch. However, Sello paid the price for setting a blistering pace and he was unable to hold off a charging Lebopo who broke the tape almost half a kilometre ahead of his countrymen.  Mosuhli, the 2008 Soweto marathon winner, secured second spot ahead of an exhausted Sello.

Last year’s Comrades winner, the Durban based Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi, overtook the winner’s brother, Warinyane, just metres before the finish to secure fourth place. Muzhingi, who lamented in pre-race interviews that he was two months behind in preparation for race, nevertheless looked in good form as he crossed the line in a credible 3:10:35.

Perhaps the performance of the day came from 52-year-old Polish born Vladimir Kotov who finished in an excellent time of 3:19:48 to not only win the 50-59 age group category, but also take almost 10 minutes off the 40-49 age group record. Kotov, who is now a South African citizen, beat all the 40 plus year olds to the finish and the former Comrades champion is looking in superb form ahead of next month’s 89.7km haul from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Olesya Nurgalieva won the women’s race in 3:41:52 beating her twin sister Elena to the line in a tight finish. Although this was the twins’ slowest win the sisters have never placed lower than fourth over a seven year period, highlighting the stranglehold they have on the event.

Local athlete Adinda Kruger ran a strong race to finish third in 3:49:23 while Tshifiwa Mundalamo came fourth in 3:52:21. Riana van Niekerk, who many pundits expected to lead the South African challenge, never looked happy and had to make do with sixth position in 3:57:57 although collecting the last silver medal amongst the ladies may have provided some consolation.

Western Province athlete Lusapho April (pictured right) won the men’s half marathon edging out Mr Price’s Kalvin Pangiso to break the tape in a quick 1:03:54. Pangiso, who hails from Zimbabwe, was only 30m adrift at the tape in a race that saw the top six runners dip under 1:05:00.

Rene Kalmer won the women’s 21.1km event with a record-breaking effort that took her to the tape in 1:12:39. Her Gauteng training partner, Irvette van Blerk, was second while Lesotho marathoner Mamorallo Tjoka was third. South Africa’s leading marathoner Tanith Maxwell finished fourth in 1:16:19 and was pleased with her performance which formed part of her final preparations for the upcoming London marathon.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya

Semenya set to return to competition in June
Controversial South African 800m runner Caster Semenya (pictured) said she would return to athletics on June 24 at an international meeting in Zaragoza, Spain. Semenya, who won the 800m gold medal at last year’s World championships, has been dogged by controversy since speculations over her gender came to light shortly after her gold medal triumph.

She was barred from competing in a meeting in Stellenbosch last week, but said she had reflected on the events of the past week and has continued to take advice from her medical and legal advisors and those closest to her.

“I believe the decision to bar me from competing in Stellenbosch last week was unlawful and wrongful. I have, however, considered the request by Athletics South Africa (ASA) that I await the conclusion of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) processes by the beginning of June this year before I return to competitive athletics.

“I welcome ASA’s public statement that it will ensure the IAAF is held to its undertaking to complete its processes by the beginning of June and I trust ASA will do the honourable thing and stick to its word in this regard. I’ve also instructed my legal representatives to seek confirmation from the IAAF that it will complete its processes by the beginning of June.

“I also trust that this will be forthcoming. Together with my coach and agent, I have therefore decided that I will return to competitive athletics at the EAA meeting to be held on June 24 in Zaragoza, Spain. I reiterate that based on medical and legal advice, I am firmly of the view there are no impediments to me racing in female athletics competitions,” the statement concluded.

Rupert van Aswegen

Rupert van Aswegen

Van Aswegen outlasts Weliya to capture SA crown
Rupert ‘The Natural’ van Aswegen (pictured) won the vacant South African light-heavyweight title when he defeated Balimo Weliya on a split decision at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park last Tuesday evening. Judges Tony Nyangiwe and David van Nieuwenhuizen handed in verdicts of 117-113 and 116-113 in favour of Van Aswegen while judge Boitumelo Madiba had Weliya winning 115-113.

The 33-year-old Van Aswegen (78.80 kg) was made to work hard for victory by the relatively inexperienced Weliya (79.16 kg) who fought with fierce determination throughout the 12 rounds. Nevertheless Van Aswegen was able to utilise his superior skills to dominate the action for long periods and rack up points against the gritty Weliya.

Van Aswegen is very adept at hooking off his jab and it was this tactic that served him well as he jolted Weliya’s head back on occasions and bloodied his mouth. However, Weliya, from Mdantsane near East London, stayed competitive by landing some stiff punches of his own and by keeping his hands high whenever Van Aswegen fired off the heavy artillery.

The fight was pretty even after 10 rounds, but a Van Aswegen rally in rounds 11 and 12 swung the verdict in his favour. The Boksburg resident improved his record to 15-6-2 (7 KO’s) while Weliya slid to 6-1 (2 KO’s) although he must be given credit for a putting up a gutsy display against his more experienced opponent.

Other results
(W=points victory, TKO=technical knockout victory, KO=knockout victory, D=draw)
Johannes Nthontho W4 Ashley Dlamini (featherweights)
Joey Stiglingh TKO 6 (junior lightweights)
Rudi Brewer TKO 2 Jerry Hlaoaela (light-heavyweights)
Nuntsu Mbaya KO 3 Basil Ray (heavyweights)

Jeff Ellis promoted the tournament in conjunction with Golden Gloves Promotions. Ellis and Golden Gloves promoted another tournament at the same venue the night before and the main bout saw Sydney Maluleka outpoint Grant ‘Fireball’ Fourie over six rounds in a junior lightweight contest.

The taller Maluleka triumphed by scores of 58-57 and 58-56 with one judge declaring the bout a draw (57-57). Maluleke ran his record to 9-3 (4 KO’s) while Fourie fell to 11-2-1 (7 KO’s). Both tournaments raised money for seriously ill sports writer Rodney Hartman – one of South Africa’s top sports writers.

Other results
Morne Bothma W4 Cebo Ngema (bantamweights)
Prince Ndlovu TKO 4 Christiaan Visser (junior lightweights)
Raymond Bloom W4 Wensley Buys (junior lightweights)
Mitus Diseko TKO 1 Sylvester Zaki (middleweights)
Fikile Nyalunga TKO 1 Simon Webb (heavyweights)

Meanwhile, in upcoming action which takes place in Essonne, France on Friday evening, undefeated Simphiwe Nongqayi (16-0; 6 KO’s) makes the first defence of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight title against local fighter Malik Bouziane (13-1; 1 KO) in a scheduled 12 rounder.

The slick boxing Nongqayi can possibly be considered South Africa’s best active pound for pound boxer as he was a distinct underdog going into his title bout with five-time world champion Jorge Arce in Cancun, Mexico last year. The fearsome punching Mexican (53-6-1; 40 KO’s) was expected to tear the comparatively inexperienced South African to pieces when the two met in September, but instead of being blown away early, Nonqqayi put on a boxing clinic to claim a thoroughly deserved unanimous decision victory.

Nevertheless Nongqayi will do well not to underestimate Bouziane who, despite a distinct lack of punching power, is reported to be a fast and clever boxer with a tight defence and excellent stamina. The Frenchman is the proud holder of the European bantamweight title, which he had defended twice, and he could spring a surprise if the more fancied champion turns in a sub par performance.

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