Brazilian pair ruled out of Sunday warm-up vs Croatia

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Renato Augusto

Renato Augusto and Douglas Costa will miss Brazil’s World Cup warm-up friendly against Croatia in England this weekend due to injury, the Brazilian Football Confederation said on Friday.

Costa will travel with the squad to Liverpool, but will not play in Sunday’s match due to a thigh strain.

However, Renato Augusto, the Beijing Guoan midfielder who has been a regular starter under coach Tite, will stay in London to have physiotherapy on an injured left knee.

Brazil play Croatia at Anfield on Sunday in what will be their penultimate warm-up before heading to Russia.

The five-time World Cup winners also face Austria in Vienna on June 10.

Striker and talisman Neymar, who has not played since injuring his foot in a league match for Paris St Germain back in February, is expected to feature in both games, although reports said he will start on the bench against Croatia.

Brazil kick off their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17 and also play Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

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Book ‘Divided Country’ revisits history of SA cricket

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When the South African cricket team thrashed Australia recently, it was a victory celebrated by the whole of South Africa. However, that was not always the case.

Professor Andre Odendaal and his fellow authors will launch ”Divided Country” on Friday.

The book tells the history of South African cricket between 1914 and 1950 when there were unbelievably seven Cricket South Africa’s split along racial and gender lines, each playing its own tournaments and leagues and selecting its own national teams.

”Divided Country” is Volume Two of the history of cricket in South Africa – a book written by Professor Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy and Christopher Merrett.

The first volume was a book called ”Cricket and Conquest” which covered the period from 1795 to 1914.

The book documented colonialism at its worst with Cecil John Rhodes at the helm and how cricket in South Africa had been formed by colonialism, imperialism, racism, the superiority of the English and then segregation through apartheid.

“Today, we know the SA team bats for all cricketers in SA, but it was not always so. In the 1950’s,  there was a white only male SA (team) called Saca; there was a coloured, Muslim, SA (team) called SACB which was forced to become the Malay cricket board; there was the SA coloured  cricket association formed in 1926; there was a SA Indian cricket union; the SA Bantu Union which in the 60’s became the African Union; there was the SA/Rhodesia women’s cricket association for white women only, and finally there was an inter-race SA called SACB, later called SACBOC. It was an absolute jumble with seven different organisations in the same cities and towns each running their own leagues and inter-provincial tournaments each selecting their own national teams. Some of them have never been known about a lot. Now, for the first time, there is a coherent history, statistical appendage of 65 tournaments by these black and omen cricketers. We had to sweat blood in newspapers, old scorebooks, wardrobes and suitcases.We have reasserted people to history where they have been erased not by accident, but as a deliberate part of colonial and apartheid thinking and action,” says author Professor Andre Ondendaal.

The book deals with both World Wars and the hardships it brought; how Indians were discriminated against and how they only became citizens in 1961, 100 years after arriving in South Africa. They were based mainly in Durban and Johannesburg and were not allowed in the Free State.

They were resilient and their love for the game of cricket shone through against all odds. White women started playing cricket in 1952. The gentleman’s game, however, was real and while women were allowed to play hockey, golf and tennis, there was tremendous opposition to women playing the cricket.

African women were also involved in the game, but not in an organised forum. It was only in 2005 that women finally found a place in world cricket when the International Women’s Cricket Council became part of the ICC.

”Divided Country” also tells some amazing cricketing stories about matches and players that affected countries on a global scale.

”Divided Country” is a book that bowls out the existing history in SA cricket. It helps to decolonise the game and creates a past that will never be the same again. It will hopefully help change mentalities and attitudes and the ownership of cricket in South Africa today – a game to be cherished by all South Africans.

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‘Arrogant’ Mamelodi Sundowns stay on course for treble

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“Arrogant” Mamelodi Sundowns stayed on course for a treble by overcoming hosts Cape Town City 2-1 on Sunday in a South African FA Cup quarter-final.

Percy Tau and Hlompho Kekana scored within eight minutes during the second half at Cape Town Stadium before Bradley Ralani halved the deficit to set up a tense climax.

Sundowns will be away to Maritzburg United in the semi-finals while Kaizer Chiefs host Free State Stars.

“We want to win the South African league and cup double and the CAF Champions League this year,” Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said before the quarter-final.

“I would rather say that than appear to be lacking confidence and ambition. Many may view us as being arrogant — but we have won trebles before.”

After eliminating Cape Town City, Mosimane added: “Experience counted for a lot today in a tough, close, exciting cup tie.

“While delighted to be in the semi-finals, we need to be more clinical. The boys should have scored several goals during the first half and the woodwork foiled us twice.”

Cape Town coach Benni McCarthy, part of the 2004 UEFA Champions League-winning Porto squad managed by Jose Mourinho, said he was hurting but proud.

“No coach wants to lose at this stage of the competition, but I can only salute the efforts of my players. They did not lie down when two goals behind.

“Our only failing was finishing and if you do not take your chances against a team stacked with stars like Sundowns, defeat is inevitable.”

On Saturday, Chiefs edged Baroka 1-0, Maritzburg defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 and Free State eliminated second-division outfit Ubuntu Cape Town 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

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Sloane Stephens wins Miami Open

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American 13th seed, Sloane Stephens won the Miami Open tennis tournament to claim her first title since the US Open in September last year. Stephens beat 6th seed, Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in straight sets.

Stephens and Ostapenko looked nervous at the start and there were no less than eight service breaks in the first set.

However, Stephens kept herself in the clash against the French Open champion with great touches on defence.

Stephens finally bagged the first set in a tough tie-break against the 20-year old Latvian. The American then stepped on the gas in the second set. Ostapenko raked up an unforced error count of 48 while Stephens firmly took control of the match.

Stephens finally clinched it 6-1 to bag her 6th WTA Tour title. She will now move into the world’s top 10 for the first time on Monday.

“It’s incredible, obviously I’m gonna miss this place a lot but I’m super excited to get a title here and I’m looking forward to defending my title next year at the new stadium. Obviously I worked really hard to get back to this place and I’m really pleased with this result so hopefully I can keep it going,” said Stephens.”

Later Sunday night, fourth seed, Alexander Zverev of Germany will take on American 14th seed, John Isner in the men’s final at Crandon Park.

Isner will be looking for the biggest win of his career against Zverev. The American, who upset fifth seed, Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals, has never won a Masters 1000-tournament. He has also never beaten the young German in three outings.

With Zverev already boasting two Masters 1000 crowns.

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India complete crushing win

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India takes a 2-0 win in the six match series.

Indian captain Virat Kohli said after a crushing win in the second one-day international at SuperSport Park on Sunday that he wanted his match-winning wrist spinners to continue to put pressure on South Africa’s batsmen.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav set up a nine-wicket win which gave India a 2-0 lead in the six-match series.

Leg-spinner Chahal picked up a career-best five for 22 and left-armer Yadav took three for 20 as South Africa were bowled out for 118, the lowest total in one-day internationals at the ground.

“We know that their middle order is inexperienced and we want to cash in on that in the future games and put some real pressure on them,” said Kohli.

“The way our spinners are bowling I am pretty confident we can continue (with) the same momentum.”

Both Indian spinners extracted a surprising amount of turn on a dry pitch which man of the match Chahal admitted was helpful. “We also play in these conditions in India,” he said.

Kohli said it had been a complete bowling performance, with new ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah setting the tone.

“They didn’t let South Africa get away with scoring too many runs,” he said.

South Africa made a reasonable start, with Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock putting on 39 for the first wicket before Amla was caught behind off Kumar. De Kock fell to Chahal, one of three batsmen to fall with the total on 51 as the spinners took control.

“We knew if we got those two at the top, their middle order is inexperienced and a bit shaky,” said Kohli.

“The spinners were outstanding. They were getting bounce and pace off the wicket, which worked in our favour.”

With star players Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers both missing because of injury, it was a chastening introduction to the South African captaincy for Aiden Markram.

The 23-year-old was appointed for the rest of the series after Du Plessis broke his right index finger in the first match in Durban on Thursday.

“We are going to have to be really honest with ourselves,” said Markram. “Every person will have to see how we can get better.”

India came within two runs of winning before lunch when the umpires stuck to the letter of the regulations and insisted on a break after allowing an extra four overs or 15 minutes to achieve a result. India had been 93 for one at the scheduled interval.

Most of a capacity crowd left the ground before Kohli scored the winning runs.

After South Africa’s mini collapse with the total on 51, JP Duminy and new cap Khaya Zondo both scored 25 and shared a fifth wicket partnership of 48 before the last six wickets tumbled for 19 runs.

India started aggressively, with Rohit Sharma pulling Morne Morkel for six in the first over of their innings.

Sharma fell for 15, caught by Morkel at fine leg off Kagiso Rabada, but Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli put on an unbeaten 91 for the second wicket to secure an easy win. Dhawan finished with 51 not out and Kohli made 46 not out.

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Chung powers past Sandgren into Open semis

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Unseeded Chung Hyeon became the first South Korean to reach a semi-final at a Grand Slam with a dominant straight sets win over American Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Ranked 58, he needed six match points before claiming a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win in 2hr 28min and will face either defending champion Roger Federer or Tomas Berdych in Friday’s semi-final.

Chung is the first South Korean man or woman to reach the semi-finals at a Slam and the youngest at 21 since Russia’s Marat Safin reached the last four in Melbourne in 2010.

The rising Korean star joins Briton Kyle Edmund as the first unseeded men’s semi-finalists in Melbourne since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008.

Chung, who sensationally knocked out six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round after taking out Germany’s world No.4 Alexander Zverev in the previous round, had a few nervy minutes before he sealed the victory.

In a tense 11-minute final game he claimed victory on his sixth match point after Sandgren threw everything at the South Korean in a bid to stay in the match.

“In the last game at 40-0 up I was thinking what I had to do at the ceremony, something like that, and after the break points I was like, nothing to do with ceremony, but just keep playing, stay focused,” Chung said on court in his limited English.

Asked who he wanted to face in the semi-final, Federer or Berdych, Chung replied diplomatically with a smile: “It’s 50-50.”

The defeat ended an extraordinary tournament for the 97th-ranked Sandgren, who had not won at a Grand Slam before winning four matches here, including upsets of former winner Stan Wawrinka and fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

Chung jumped out of the blocks with an early break before taking the opening set in 37 minutes, serving at a high 85 percent.

He was playing on the baseline, taking time away from the American and controlling the points.

Chung broke in the opening game of the second set with a delightful backhand across the net taking the line. But Sandgren began to get more into the contest and broke back in the fourth when Chung’s forehand was wide.

Sandgren broke again in the eighth and was serving for the second set before he was broken with a netted forehand.

Chung maintained his level in the tiebreaker, getting to set point before he forced a Sandgren forehand long.
Chung broke in the fourth game of the final set and but temporarily his victory charge was stalled before he got home on his sixth match point.

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Sharks upbeat about 2018 Super Rugby season

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The Sharks head coach Robert du Preez says there’s great energy in his squad ahead of the tough 2018 Super Rugby season. He’s banking on a team with a good mixture of youth and experience to produce the results this season.

The Sharks are not taking the 2018 rugby season lying down. They’re sweating it out in the sweltering Durban heat stretching themselves to the limited.

They are sharpening their skills ahead of a tough couple of months of rugby.

Sharks head coach, Robert du Preez says, “We’ve got some really talented youngsters and these guys haven’t looked out of place. A guy like Pepsi Buthelezi, who is the Sharks under 18 captain last year and JJ Van Der Mescht, they’ve trained with us right through pre-season and they haven’t looked out of place, it’s great to have a mix of the youth and the more experienced guys.”

The Sharks are heading into the 2018 Super Rugby competition with a pep in their step, but say they want to take it one step at a time.

Sharks player, Franco Marais says, “So obviously we are playing New Zealand sides this year and we got two weeks in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand and I think we need to take it week for week. I know it’s an old cliché but Super Rugby is a tough competition and you can’t aim to far in the future, but for us a home a quarter final is definitely one of our goals and hopefully a home final.”

They’ll be playing two warm-up matches prior to the competition.

On the 27th of January they meet the Bulls in Polokwane and on the 3rd of February they head to Hong Kong, where they’ll take on Racing 92.

On Saturday, Sharks fans are in for a treat. They’ll get an opportunity to meet the entire squad at Kings Park.

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Nedbank Cup to see ABSA premiership teams battle it out

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A number of ABSA Premiership teams will play each other in the opening round of the 2017/18 Nedbank Cup.

The draw that took place in Johannesburg on Monday threw up some intriguing and mouth-watering clashes.

There will hardly be a David versus Goliath clash in the Nedbank Cup this season.

Perhaps the only two matches that will provide such affairs are Mamelodi Sundowns against Cape Town All Stars and Maritzburg United versus Moroka Swallows FC.

There are a few mouth-watering matches to look forward to. One of those will be the battle between Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City.

The two sides have already met three times this season with the Citizens causing an upset on all three occasions against the defending Premiership champions.

Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits Coach, elaborates:

“We have won three in 14 months, but look where we are now… So football can turn on a kick of a ball and things can happen easily in football. They have a great record against us over the last two seasons, and this season we have lost to them three times, but this is another game we will see what happens.”

Kaizer Chiefs have a tricky first round encounter against Golden Arrows.

Although the KZN outfit has not been able to pick up many wins this season, they have however proved to be a tough side to play against.

Stephen Komphela, Chiefs coach:

“In terms of profiling I could immediately go back they know who we are. So there is not going to be much research but going forward, obviously depending on how things unfold then, there is going to be an issue where you have to go check the opponent but with them it’s a bit easier in terms of understanding who you are up against.”

Orlando Pirates welcome back former mentor Muhsin Ertugral for the first time.

The Turk will be on the bench of Ajax Cape Town when the Soweto giants host the Urban Warriors a team that is hoping for some success following a poor start to the season.

Other ties between top-flight sides see Platinum Stars host Baroka FC, while Nedbank Cup Champions from the past two seasons, Supersport United, travel to Bloemfontein Celtic.

Eric Tinkler, Supersport United coach says:

“Very tough start we played them in the Telkom Cup and unfortunately lost after penalties. We gave away a two nil lead and hopefully we can go there and turn that around. We are obviously defending champions we have won it two years in a row and we would like to make it a third and become the first club to ever do that so I think the motivation will be there.”

The dates, venues and kick-off times will be confirmed by the PSL at a later stage.


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All systems go for Cape Town Cycle Tour

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Organisers of the popular Cape Town Cycle Tour say this year’s event is going ahead, despite the critical water shortage in the Cape.

Director David Bellairs says a well thought-out plan is in place with all suppliers and service providers.

This will ensure that they reduce their reliance and impact on the municipal water supply to as close as possible to 0 percent.

Bellairs says they are positive that they’ll be able to meet this goal.

Participants will also be provided with practical tips on how to do their part to save water while staying in the Mother City for the event on 11 March.

Bellairs says no shower facilities will be provided this year. Chemical toilets and hand sanitisers will be used instead.

Spring water will be brought in while grey water and desalinated water will be used to further save water.


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SA sees growth in women’s golf

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Golfer Ashleigh Buhai says local golfers will be able to test themselves against the best and see the level they need to step it up to because it is a big step from an amateur to a professional.

This comes after the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Women’s PGA of South Africa announced on Monday that the 2018 Investec South African Women’s Open will be jointly co-sanctioned between the Sunshine Ladies Tour, WPGA and the Ladies European Tour.

“This means that the Women’s golf in the country is going from strength to strength and we going to have a lot of strong players competing for the Investec South African Women’s Open this year,” says Buhai.

Click below to watch full interview:

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