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Posted on: Wednesday, 26 August 2009

This Week in South African Sports – 26 August 2009

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Mbulaeni Mulaudzi

Mbulaeni Mulaudzi

Rich medal haul for South African trio in Berlin
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi had the last laugh at the World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on Sunday when he ran a superb 800m race to clock 1 min, 45.29 secs to secure a gold medal for South Africa. Mulaudzi did not run particularly well in his semi-final heat on Friday, finishing fourth and having to wait to see if he would qualify for the final as the second of two fastest losers, which he did by the smallest of margins.

And so, despite his somewhat tepid performance in the semi-finals, the 29-year-old Mulaudzi found himself in the final against the world’s best 800m runners, including the likes of defending champion Alfred Yego from Kenya and Yusuf Kamel of Bahrain …

However, it was clearly evident that Mulaudzi meant business this time round, as he ran hard from the outset, dictating the pace and taking the field through the opening lap in a brisk 53.44 secs. The South African applied further pressure on the field at the 600m mark, upping the pace and starting to pull away from his rivals going into the final stretch, but as he powered down the home straight, Yego and Kamel fought back fiercely, and it required a desperate dip into the line to secure victory for Mulaudzi, who lat sprawled on the track, utterly spent after his dramatic effort. Yego and Kamel were credited with identical times of 1:45.35 for silver and bronze respectively.

The victory clearly meant the world to Mulaudzi who screamed in delight while sitting on the track, still unable to get to his feet after his energy sapping effort. Dramatic it was, dignified it was not, nevertheless the SA veteran had the last laugh, shutting the mouths of his critics and those who felt he did not possess the tactical acumen to win a race of this magnitude.

Mulaudzi’s efforts were well supported by fellow 800m runner Caster Semenya, who won gold in the women’s event earlier in the championships, and long jumper Khotso Mokoena who secured a silver medal for his country with a leap of 8.47m, bettered only by the 8.54m of American Dwight Phillips. The South African trio of Coolboy Ngamole, Joseph Kekana and Norman Dlomo put up a good performance in the men’s marathon to finish just out of the medals in fifth position. The South Africans were well placed at the 30km mark, only to see the Japanese and Portuguese competitors fight their way through the field to push them out of medal contention.

And so ended another World Athletics championships for South Africa, who can be satisfied with their efforts with two golds and a silver to their credit. Of course, the controversy surrounding Semanye, with her gender being called into question by the IAAF, cast a dark cloud over the achievements of the South Africans at these championships, and it is hoped that this issue can be solved amicably and effectively by all parties concerned. To date, the IAAF’s handling of the situation has been disgraceful, and one sincerely hopes that a formal apology is issued by the World Athletics governing body, which should have kept their accusations against Semanye confidential.

Monty Dumond

Monty Dumond

Buoyant Sharks sink Griquas while WP edge Lions in thriller
The 2009 Absa Currie Cup competition has reached the half way mark and a definite hierarchy has been established, with the top four teams distancing themselves from the bottom four in the race to secure semi-final spots. The Sharks faced a potentially difficult test against GWK Griquas at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon, but passed with flying colours as they trounced the diamond miners 41-6 (half-time 20-6) scoring five unanswered tries in the process.

Sharks flyhalf Monty Dumond (pictured) had an excellent game, slotting five penalties and two conversions as well as scoring a well worked 47th minute try for a personal tally of 24 points. I have not seen a lot of Dumond, but the quick and compact flyhalf looks like a really top-notch player, and the Sharks must be delighted that they have someone of his calibre in their squad, over and above their well-stocked cabinet of Springboks.

Dumond’s job was made all that easier by the well schooled Sharks pack, with hooker Craig Burden and eighth man Keegan Daniel, who scored a fine try shortly before the final whistle, standing out in particular. Centre Waylon Murray, scrumhalf Charl McLeod and left wing Lwazi Mvovo also scored tries to round off the scoring for the Durbanites. Naas Olivier replied with two penalties for Griquas, but it was to no avail as the Sharks romped to yet another victory, while Griquas spluttered to a second straight defeat, after succumbing by a single point to the Blue Bulls in their last outing.

Western Province were at home to the Lions at a freezing Newlands on Saturday evening, and the men from the Cape proved a tad too good for their Gauteng counterparts, pulling off a slender 25-20 victory after going into the break 18-8 to the good. Province have now won five of their seven games this season and their latest win puts them second in the competition on 24 points. Griquas and the Blue Bulls have the same total, but Province has a better point’s difference, pushing them into second.

The Lions stayed competitive throughout Saturday’s match courtesy of the boot of flyhalf Herkie Kruger, who stroked over five penalties for a personal haul of 15 points. However, you can’t argue with a try tally of three to one, with captain and eighth man Luke Watson, slippery fullback Joe Pieterson and flanker Duane Vermeulen all touching down for the home side enabling the Capetonians to emerge as deserved winners.

Jongi Nokwe

Jongi Nokwe

Bulls bully Leopards while Jongi torments Cavaliers in Bloem
The Bulls faced the winless Platinum Leopards at Loftus on Friday evening, but the slaughter that many (including yours truly) predicted did not materialise as the Bulls struggled to find their rhythm against a plucky and determined Leopards outfit. The first half was a tight affair which saw the home side go into the break a mere 20-11 to the good. The visitors points came via an excellent try by wing by wing Danie Demas with flyhalf Cecil Dumond and replacement flyhalf Clayton Durnad banging over a penalty apiece. The men in blue answered with tries from centre Jaco Pretorious and flank Deon Stegmann with flyhalf Burton Francis slotting two conversions, a penalty and a well-taken drop goal to complete the first half scoring.

Ill discipline in the second half proved to be the undoing of the Leopards as they conceded 24 points without posting a reply to run out 44-11 losers against their more illustrious opponents. The Leopards committed rugby suicide by racking up three yellow and two red cards to finish the match in tatters with just 12 men remaining on the field. The Bulls took advantage of the mayhem by running in four unanswered tries by prop Flip van der Merwe, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, wing Gerhard van den Heever and flanker Dewald Potgieter to send the Leopards packing. However, the Bulls will want to forget this game in a hurry after suffering a series of debilitating injuries, the worst of them being the broken leg incurred by wing Akona Ndungane, who suffered the injury while attempting to charge down a clearance kick.

The Cheetahs were in fine form in front of their home crowd at Vodacom Park in Bloemforntein on Saturday when they thumped the struggling Boland Cavaliers 59-8 (half-time 26-8) to promote themselves to fifth position on the log. Fleet-footed Springbok and Cheetahs wing Jongi Nokwe (pictured) ran rings around the hapless Bolanders to score four sparkling tries to equal his record-breaking feat for the Springboks against Australia almost a year ago.

The pacy Nokwe dotted down in the third, 14th, 62nd and 80th minutes to crush the sprit of the Cavaliers. Two tries by fullback Hennie Daniller and one apiece from flank Frans Viljoen, flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter and prop Wian du Preez compounded the Cavaliers’ misery as the visitors sank out of sight. Potgieter added four conversions for good measure while his replacement Louis Strydom slotted three to round off the scoring for the Cheetahs. In reply, the Bolanders could only muster a try from centre Cornel Hendricks and a penalty from fullback Justin Peach.

In upcoming matches, the Leopards square off against the Cavaliers in the battle of the minnows in Potchefstroom on Friday evening, with Saturday’s fixtures seeing the Sharks hosting Western Province, the Cheetahs paying a visit to GWK Park in Kimberley, and the Lions entering the cauldron that is Loftus Versveld, to face the Bulls.

ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division standings after seven rounds
ABSA Currie Cup

In upcoming Tri-Nations warfare, the Springboks battle the Wallabies at the Subaico Oval in Perth on Saturday, with the Boks starting as favourites following their convincing 29-17 defeat of the Wallabies in their previous encounter on August 8 at Newlands in Cape Town. The All Blacks inflicted a narrow 19-18 defeat on the Australians on Saturday at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney, leaving the Wallabies without a win in three outings.

Vodacom Tri-Nations Log
Vodacom Tri-Nations

Joseph Musonda

Joseph Musonda

Arrows and Ajax storm into MTN8 semis
The soccer gods are smiling on Lamontville Golden Arrows and Ajax Cape Town after the two teams booked their places in the MTN8 Cup final after fending off spirited challenges from Amazulu and Kaizer Chiefs respectively. Arrows defeated KwaZulu-Natal rivals Amazulu 2-1 in last weekend’s battle at the Chatsworth Stadium in Durban and on Saturday evening they repeated their victory at the same venue by despatching Usuthu 2-0 in an entertaining match.

Abafana Bes’thende have captain Joseph Musonda (pictured in the white vest) and midfielder Njabulo Manqana to thank for their victory with Musonda collecting a well placed cross from striker Richard Henyekane to steer the ball past goalkeeper Nicolas Gindre in the 13th minute. Manqana sealed Usuthu’s fate 17 minutes later when he rifled a shot past a despairing Gindre to put Arrows 2-0 up in the match and 4-1 on aggregate. Try as they might Amazulu could not get onto the score sheet, and there was to be no denying Abafana Bes’thende as they qualified for their first top flight cup final.

The other semi-final between defending champions Chiefs and Ajax was a real thriller with the teams deadlocked at 3-3 after 90 minutes at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon. However, the Cape side advance through to the final 4-3 on aggregate courtesy of their 1-0 victory the previous weekend in the first leg semi-final in Cape Town.

Chiefs’ goals came from Jose Torrealba (15th minute), Josta Dladla (a minute later) and Simphiwe Tshabalala (81st minute) while Ajax replied with two strikes from Brett Evans (11th and 33rd minutes) and a 30-yard screamer from Franklin Cale in the 84th minute to book their place in the final against Arrows on September 26.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual in the Absa Premier Soccer League (PSL) with a number of games played throughout the country this past week. MTN8 finalists Arrows, as well as Black Aces, Amazulu and Bloemfontein Celtic will be happy with their efforts after recording wins, while the rest of the matches produced draws.

PSL results (all games played on Wednesday, August 19)
Golden Arrows 2  vs Jomo Cosmos 0
Platinum Stars 0 vs AmaZulu 1
Santos 0 vs Bloem Celtic 1
Black Aces 2 vs Moroka Swallows 1
Free State Stars 1 vs Ajax Cape Town 1
Orlando Pirates 0 vs Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Bidvest Wits 1 vs Maritzburg Utd 1

The struggle for PSL supremacy resumes tomorrow when all sixteen teams do battle with the pick of the games likely to be the encounter between Celtic and Supersport United, who are both coming off excellent victories over Santos and Kaizer Chiefs respectively. The action continues on Saturday and Sunday with another full round of fixtures.

PSL FIXTURES:

Wednesday 26 August
Golden Arrows vs  Platinum Stars – Chatsworth Stadium: 3.00pm
Jomo Cosmos vs Black Aces – Rand Stadium: 7.30pm
Maritzburg Utd vs AmaZulu – Woodburn Stadium: 7.30pm
Kaizer Chiefs vs Bidvest Wits – Orlando Stadium: 7.30pm
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Free State Stars – Super Stadium: 7.30pm
Moroka Swallows vs Orlando Pirates – Dobsonville Stadium: 7.30pm
Bloem Celtic vs SuperSport United – Seisa Ramabodu Stadium: 7.30pm
Ajax Cape Town vs Santos – Newlands Stadium: 7.30pm

Saturday 29 August
Black Aces vs Golden Arrows – Ackerville Stadium: 3.00pm
SuperSport United vs Ajax Cape Town – Super Stadium: 3.00pm
Platinum Stars vs Maritzburg Utd – Royal Bafokeng Stadium: 3.00pm
Bidvest Wits vs Bloem Celtic – Bidvest Stadium: 8.00pm
Orlando Pirates vs Jomo Cosmos – Orlando Stadium: 8.15pm
Santos vs Mamelodi Sundowns – Newlands Stadium: 8.15pm

Sunday 30 August
AmaZulu vs Kaizer Chiefs – Chatsworth Stadium: 3.00pm
Free State Stars vs Moroka Swallows – Goble Park: 3.00pm

Malcolm Klassen

Malcolm Klassen

Stone loses out to The Ghost in Houston
Malcolm ‘Stone’ Klassen (pictured) suffered only his second professional defeat in nearly eight years when he was out pointed by classy American Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero in Houston, Texas, USA on Saturday night. Guerrero won by scores of 117-111, 116-113 and 116-112 to relieve Klassen of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super featherweight title after 12 rounds of action, which saw the 28-year-old South African stage a spirited rally in the later rounds to try and keep his title. In the end, however, it was to no avail as the crafty American stayed out of trouble to secure the win on the scorecards.

Despite a brave effort, Klassen only had himself to blame for his defeat having allowed Guerrero to build up a big points lead in the early and middle rounds, which the Toekomsrus fighter could not eradicate. Although there were no knockdowns in the fight Guerrero did manage to send Klassen’s mouthpiece flying in the sixth round courtesy of a vicious uppercut, but the tough as teak South African took the punch well to remain on his feet. The 26-year-old American did equally well to stay in the fight after sustaining a cut over his left eye in the seventh round following a nasty clash of heads.

With the win Guerrero improved his record to 25-1-1 with 17 KO’s while Klassen dropped to 24-5-2 with 15 wins via the short route. It was a disappointing loss for the gritty Klassen who was hoping to record his sixth straight victory following a narrow points defeat to fellow South African Mzonke Fane in April 2007. However, it must be said that he was up against arguably the best fighter in the division in Guerrero, who relinquished his IBF featherweight title last year to move up in weight.

South African junior middleweight champion Tshepo ‘De La Hoya’ Mashego carved out a victory over Tanzanian Karama Nyilawila in a 10-round bout at the Nasrec Indoor Arena near Johannesburg on Friday night. The 30-year-old Mashego used a punishing left jab to rack up the points against the younger Nyilawila (25), who failed to penetrate the defences of the wily South African. There were no knockdowns in the fight and neither fighter appeared visibly hurt at any stage.

The fight was intended to help Mashego prepare for his upcoming battle with Nikola ‘Johnny Granata’ Stevanovic for the IBF Intercontinental light-middleweight title in Belgrade, Serbia on October 5. The 22-year-old Stevanovic is not much of a puncher with only seven KO’s in 19 outings, but he is a capable boxer and Mashego will have to be at his very best if he hopes to lift the title from the Serbian, whose only loss was to the undefeated Alexander Abraham of Armenia in January.

In upcoming action, big punching Lubabalo Msutu defends his World Boxing Foundation (WBF) bantamweight title against slick boxing Nick Otieno in a scheduled 12-round battle at the Orient Theatre in East London on Friday night. The 26-year-old Msutu, who hails from Mdatsane in the Eastern Cape, has a 10-2 record with nine of those ten wins coming inside the distance. He is a dangerous puncher, but he can be out boxed and out punched as both Unathi Gqokoma and Simpiwe Vetyeka proved to his detriment.

However, Msutu must start as a slight favourite over Otieno, who may find the going tough in front of Msutu’s rabid hometown fans. Otieno is a clever boxer who has never been stopped in 20 professional outings, but it is doubtful if he has faced as hard a hitter as Msutu. Nevertheless, the experienced Kenyan is coming off a good win over Ibrahim Adewale whom he out pointed over 12 rounds to secure the World Boxing Council (WBC) International bantamweight title in November last year, and Msutu will be foolish to take his opponent lightly in what promises to be a classic boxer versus puncher match up.

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