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SA’s determined band of brothers bonded by more than hockey

David hasn’t quite slayed Goliath but he has landed a few blows which have shaken up the established order at these Commonwealth Games.
The men’s hockey team will see Monday’s bronze medal showdown against England as a further opportunity to bloody the nose of a higher-ranked opponent. Few outside that close-knit circle expect the men from South Africa to rip the medal from opponents who were considered unlucky to lose their own semi-final against world No 1 Australia.
But, there’s so much more to South Africa’s appearance in the bronze medal match against a pre-tournament favourite than meets the eye.
There are those who regard a playoff for third and fourth place a rather pointless exercise and hard for teams to raise their game after the heartbreak of missing out on a place in a final.
Coach Gareth Ewing responds to that suggestion with: “I know a lot of people who are happier winning a bronze than losing the gold. So, for us, it is vitally important that we turn up and give it everything.”
Ewing rated the 3-2 defeat by India in a pulsating semi-final a “7 out of 10”. He would be saying that because he sees the potential in his squad and he also knows the road that the tight group are on.
Distraught bodies were strewn on the blue astro at the University of Birmingham Hockey Centre at the final hooter with India clinging on for a 3-2 win in the semi-final, after they’d gone 2-0 up at halftime.
India knew they had been in a dogfight, at times physically outmuscled by an energetic group of South Africans who have caught the eye here with their all-action approach. They have been particularly effective with a brand of counter-punching hockey, picking up the ball on the edge of their own circle and getting it to the edge of their opponents’ circle at speed.
South Africa came into the Commonwealth Games ranked 13 in the world, and paired in a group which included Australia (No 1), India (No 5), Pakistan (No 18) and Scotland (No 21).
They opened with a 2-2 draw with Pakistan, the equaliser coming in the last minute of that game. That, quite simply, made South Africa’s task of finishing in the top two even tougher.
They followed with a nervy 5-4 win over Scotland, before impressing neutrals with their fight against Australia, losing 3-0 to the best team on the planet, a squad which ...

‘Back-a-buddy’ strategy works for Daryl Impey and Team SA

South Africa’s Daryl Impey bagged a silver medal in the men’s cycling road race at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
Daryl Impey missed out on this year’s Tour de France due to Covid-19 but the 37-year-old showed no lingering effects of the illness as he sprinted to the silver medal in a thrilling men’s road race.
The vastly experienced South African followed New Zealand’s Aaron Gate over the line in 3hr 28min 29sec after a cat-and-mouse affair over the 160km route, where pre-race favourite Mark Cavendish was trapped early in the peloton and lost contact with the front groups as the lead regularly changed hands.
Former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas had launched a dramatic late attack, hoping to avoid a sprint finish and secure gold. However, Fred Wright of England along with the remnants of the day’s leading group, hauled back the Welshman.
Wright opened up his sprint for the line, but Gate had too much speed. Impey got going to finish second, with a huge smile on his face as he crossed the line. And why not? At the age of 37, a Commonwealth Games silver medal will sit beautifully on a CV that is as long as his arms.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Retire? ‘Don’t even ask me that’ – Ndodomzi Ntutu rolls back the years to win 100m para gold”
One of the unsung heroes of the race was 26-year-old Morne van Niekerk, who was in the lead group for long periods of the race and helped make it a true pace. He did a lot of work for his teammate but couldn’t get into contention for the sprint and finished 12th, about 26 seconds behind the winner. However, Impey will have been singing his teammate’s praises afterwards.
There were two other Team SA cyclists in the race, Callum Ormiston (37th) and Gustav Basson, who, like Cavendish, was hauled off the road 144km into the race.
Impey’s silver medal takes Team SA’s haul at these Games to 27 – seven gold, nine silver and 11 bronze.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “‘I have tears of joy, tears of excitement’ – Charl du Toit picks perfect time to retire”
“To get my first medal for Team SA at the age of 37 at such a prestigious event is really nice. We had a super team today. We might have been down in numbers compared to others and we were less experienced, but they rode like ...

South African Buhai wins Women’s British Open in dramatic playoff

Aug 7 (Reuters) - South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai won her first major title at the Women's British Open on Sunday after beating South Korean Chun In-gee in a thrilling playoff at Muirfield.
Buhai had a five-shot lead going to the final round but a triple bogey on the 15th hole put her level with Chun. Both Buhai and Chun missed long birdies on the 18th and headed into a playoff after finishing 10-under-par in regulation play.
Under pressure, the South African held her nerve and survived three playoff holes against Chun before battling back with a glorious bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole.
Buhai then stroked home her par putt to seal the playoff win, sparking celebration from her husband, while Chun had to settle for second after a bogey.
“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with a lot of grey hairs right now, after that 15th hole!” Buhai said.
“But I was very proud of the way I dug deep to keep myself together and get into the play-off. I was surprisingly calm. I just tried to stay in the moment.
“My caddie said, show them why you’re number one in bunkers. Maybe it’s something to do with South Africans here in bunkers! It’s a good stomping ground for us. For me to be a female South African major winner, I have no words, it’s life changing!”
Buhai becomes the second women’s major winner from South Africa, joining Sally Little.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru)

DStv Premiership returns — some key takeaways from SA’s top-flight football league

After a two-month hiatus, South Africa’s top-flight football league, the DStv Premiership, made its much anticipated return.
While there were some shock outcomes as the DStv Premiership kicked off this past weekend, perennial league winners Mamelodi Sundowns underlined their status as the best football team in the country by beating Cape Town City.
The most notable weekend result was Kaizer Chiefs’ 1-0 loss to Royal AM — who are in their sophomore season in the Premiership. Meanwhile, in the first KwaZulu-Natal derby of the season, new kids on the block Richards Bay stunned seasoned campaigners Golden Arrows 2-0 in KwaMashu, Durban.
But there were no surprises when defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns hit the ground running with a comfortable 2-0 win over last season’s runners-up City.
Left-back Aubrey Modiba registered an early goal of the season contender with a cracking free kick, with veteran Themba Zwane ensuring the three points just two minutes after Modiba’s belter.
In Soweto, Spanish coach Jose Riveiro launched his tenure as the new Orlando Pirates leader with a 1-0 win over Swallows. New striker Bienvenu Eva Nga, signed from Chippa United, scored the key goal that clinched victory for the Bucs in the original Soweto derby.
Elsewhere, last season’s surprise side Stellenbosch, who ended the 2021/2022 campaign in fourth place, were held to a nil-all stalemate by Marumo Gallants. TS Galaxy and AmaZulu recorded the same result in their clash, while Maritzburg United and Sekhukhune United could also not be separated — playing to a 1-1 draw.
Plethora of goalkeepers
There were eyebrows raised when Bafana Bafana’s first-choice goalkeeper Ronwen Williams agreed to join undisputed South African champions Sundowns in the off season — ending his 12-year stay at SuperSport United.
Questions surfaced on how his move to Matsatsantsa’s Tshwane neighbours — who already boast three high-quality goalkeepers in Denis Onyango, Kennedy Mweene and Reyaad Pieterse — would affect the national team.
However, following his assured display on debut against the Citizens, complemented by a clean sheet, Williams is likely to be granted sufficient game time at Masandawana. Though he will not play every game as he did for SuperSport.
“With Ronwen the decision was to try and induct him as quickly as possible, the road ahead is a little bit rough and the competition in that space is still going to be rough,” Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi explained on Williams being thrown straight into the thick of things.
“But it’s always better when he’s going to be ...

Boks set to compound All Blacks’ misery at Ellis Park citadel

The Springboks are improving with each match this season, whereas the All Blacks appear to be going the other way.
The good news for the All Blacks is that they only have one more match to go on this short tour. The bad news is that it’s at Ellis Park against a rampaging Springbok side who feel they still have much more to give.
Both sides travelled to Johannesburg from Mbombela on Sunday, 7 August, wearing bruises of yet another massively physical encounter at the Mbombela Stadium. The Boks though, have no mental wounds after their emphatic 26-10 victory – the biggest winning margin in the professional era.
The All Blacks, by contrast, are carrying the psychological trauma of being badly beaten by their fiercest rivals so soon after losing a home series to Ireland. This was their third Test defeat in a row and their fifth in six matches. The All Blacks are developing scar tissue upon scar tissue.
And unlike many times in the past, the Boks are not content with the bragging rights for one victory. They have the knife in and they intend to twist it further.
Bok hooker Malcolm Marx, whose brilliant display at Mbombela earned him the man-of-the-match award, issued an ominous warning: “We will never take anything for granted, so we will work equally hard next week and do as much as we can so that we are up for the challenge.”
The message is clear. The Boks are on a journey to defend their Rugby World Cup title in France next year but along the way they intend to dominate weekly.
Main event
After experimenting against Wales in July, a dress rehearsal for the Rugby Championship, the goal and mindset has changed. Now it’s about producing quality performances and creating the kind of consistency that makes very good teams great. And despite their struggles, the All Blacks remain the major yardstick of measurement.
Because of the respect the Springboks have for the All Blacks, they will not let up after one powerful performance. The ultimate respect they can show to the opposition — and, more importantly, to themselves — is to continue to raise the bar.
Both sides will go into the second Test, which will decide the winner of the Freedom Cup, with changes.
Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and wing Kurt-Lee Arendse will almost certainly miss the match. Both were stretchered off after being knocked unconscious at either end of the ...

Benni in the 18 area as he joins Manchester United as striker coach

SA’s Benni McCarthy is one of the football minds entrusted with ending the Red Devils’ trophy drought.
South African football lovers have thirsted for a player in the mould of Benni McCarthy or Steven Pienaar to strut their stuff in the English top flight – the Premier League.
Bafana Bafana attacker Percy Tau was the last player to make a noticeable attempt, though he never broke into Brighton’s first team before moving on to join Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
Now, South Africans will get something akin to their wish with the news that McCarthy has returned to the Premier League. The former Blackburn Rovers and West Ham attacker has been roped in by Manchester United as striker coach for its first team.
McCarthy was the last appointment made by new manager Erik Ten Hag to his backroom team before the 2022/23 season began at the weekend. The former AmaZulu coach will work closely with the boss and his other summer appointments, Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag, as the Red Devils aim to arrest a hellish five-year trophy drought.
Ten Hag replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjær as full-time first-team manager of the English giants. The Norwegian was relieved of his duties in late 2021. German Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim manager while United searched for Solskjær’s successor. They eventually settled on Dutchman Ten Hag.
Cape Town to Manchester
Coincidentally, Ten Hag’s previous place of employment before joining United was at the club where McCarthy made his entrance into European football as a 20-year-old – Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam.
The Dutch defender-turned-manager spoke to the Red Devils’ media department about the thinking behind McCarthy’s appointment at the club.
“There was still one place in our coaching staff that I wanted to fill,” Ten Hag told MUTV, “someone with a different voice, and Benni is that one.”
“He has experience as a manager, he was a coach in the professional level and was a former striker – a really successful striker as well. He will focus on positioning and attacking. I’m not only for the strikers, but also the integration from the full-backs and midfielders,” Ten Hag said.
McCarthy is not the first former Bafana Bafana player to find himself at the Manchester club. Fellow Capetonian Quinton Fortune also landed a coaching job in the red half of Manchester back in 2019, as assistant coach of the team’s under-23 side.
Speaking about his United role, Hanover Park native McCarthy said: “[I want to] ...

Brutal Boks destroy All Blacks despite red card

The Springboks secured a 26-10 win over the All Blacks at Mbombela Stadium to underline their world champion credentials.
South Africa 26 (10) New Zealand 10 (3)
Dominant, emphatic, claustrophobic and clinical. The Springboks have seldom, if ever, dominated an All Black side so comprehensively. Despite a 26-10 final scoreline, the tourists were lucky it was not a lot worse.
New Zealand hardly had any ball, they lost the aerial battle, they were destroyed on the ground and smothered when they did try to launch attacks.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster’s time in charge is now surely measured in hours, not days as his side slumped to a third consecutive defeat.
The Boks’ 16-point margin was the biggest in the professional era between the sides and the second biggest in history.
The All Blacks will limp to Johannesburg for the second Test at Ellis Park next week, but they won’t be relishing the challenge if the outcome and performance at Mbombela was anything to go by. If the Boks were more accurate on attack, they could have scored 40 points or more.
Not even losing scrumhalf Faf de Klerk after 45 seconds derailed the Boks’ relentless display. De Klerk was knocked out when trying to tackle wing Caleb Clarke, forcing Jaden Hendrikse into the match from the start.
Boks coach Jacques Nienaber’s decision to start Hendrikse twice against Wales in July was, in retrospect, a superb move, given how this match unfolded. Had Hendrikse not received so much game time against Wales would his performance have been as good as it was at Mbombela?
Until Shannon Frizell’s 79th-minute try, after impressive wing Kurt-Lee Arendse was off the field after being red-carded for a horror tackle on flyhalf Beauden Barrett, the All Blacks never came close to scoring.
It was an unfortunate end to a superb display from Arendse, whose ability in the air was spectacular as was his general play.
Power game
South Africa’s power game was too much for this callow New Zealand side to handle. The first scrum resulted in a free kick for the Boks. The second in a penalty for the home team and from then on it just collapsed into a heap of misery for the All Blacks.
The Boks, as per the script they would have planned, took a 10-0 lead early on after a Arendse’ early try and the first of three penalties for flyhalf Handré Pollard.
New Zealand were bullied in contact and relentlessly knocked back ...

The All Blacks have their Boks to the wall against South Africa this weekend

Seldom has an All Blacks side started a Test against the Springboks as underdogs, but this weekend in Nelspruit, it is certainly the case.
In more than 300 Tests since TAB began taking bets on the outcome of All Black Tests, the Kiwis have only ever started as underdogs four times on betting odds.
And including this weekend, each of those four times the opposition has been the Springboks. In the three previous encounters when the All Blacks were not favoured, TAB’s experts or algorithms proved correct. The All Blacks lost.
So, based on that small sample, the portents are not good for the All Blacks when they face the world champions at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday. But it didn’t need a betting company to figure that out.
The All Blacks are in unusual territory, especially this century. They are coming off a 2-1 home series defeat against Ireland and have lost four of their past five Tests. Should they lose both Tests to the Boks, and with them the Freedom Cup, they will be on a four-match losing run, which hasn’t happened since 1998.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “All Blacks angst doesn’t make them any less of a threat against the Boks”
Recent form suggests the All Blacks will struggle, but the great joy and mystery of sport is that the unexpected could happen. And honestly, the All Blacks suddenly waking from a slumber and beating the Boks would hardly be a shock.
Superb record in South Africa
After all, their record against South Africa is excellent. In 101 Tests between the sides, New Zealand have won 60 and the Boks 37 with one draw.
In 54 Tests played in South Africa, the All Blacks have beaten the Springboks 27 times and lost 26 with one draw. And in the professional era that record in South Africa reads: played 32, won 21, lost 11. If anything, the All Blacks should start as favourites.
Of course, this All Blacks team is in transition. Older players such as captain Sam Cane are under pressure to reach their previous benchmark while several new faces have yet to step up to the expected standards.
Coach Ian Foster is hovering close to the exit door and news out of New Zealand suggests he will be axed if the All Blacks lose both matches on their South African tour.
For Foster though, who made four changes to the side that lost the third and deciding ...

‘I have tears of joy, tears of excitement’ – Charl du Toit picks perfect time to retire

Double Olympic and world champion Charl du Toit has called time on his running career after bagging a silver medal at Birmingham 2022.
One of the biggest conundrums for any athlete is knowing when to say: “It’s time.” Many stay on too long, wanting to keep Father Time at arm’s length once he’s touched them on the shoulder. Many spoil their legacy by not quitting at the right time.
Charl du Toit has timed his retirement to perfection.
One of para athletics’ bright lights, the 100m and 400m gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold medallist in the 200m and 400m at the 2017 Para World Championships, woke up today as a retired athlete.
He put the final stop to a glittering career with a silver medal in the T37/T38 100m at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, stopping the clock in 11.54sec. At the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021, he clocked 11.63 in the event and in winning gold in Rio six years ago it was 11.45. No one can dare suggest he left it too late.
At the age of 29, and picking up silver in a race where a higher classification (T38) athlete in Australia’s Evan O’Hanlon won gold, Du Toit has picked the perfect moment to retire.
See more of Daily Maverick’s Commonwealth Games coverage:
“‘If it were not for judo, I would probably have dropped out of school,’ says SA’s latest gold medal winner”
“The Commonwealth is conquered, now bring on the world – Double gold haul leaves Lara van Niekerk ‘speechless’”
“Tatjana and Kaylene – ‘It’s nice to cry on the podium, rather than next to the pool’”
“Powell’s era of brilliance is almost over, but the Blitzboks are far from finished”
“‘I don’t get the appreciation and have come to terms with it’: Akani Simbine”
“This was definitely my last race. I have tears of joy, tears of excitement,” Du Toit said.
“This was a special race, and having my coach, my fiancée and my brother and his wife here was special. I’m not finished with athletics itself, it’s in my blood and I will still be involved somewhere. But for the racing side of it I am so privileged.”
He goes out on his shield on a high, and in front of a crowd – which wasn’t the case at a Covid-19-restricted Tokyo – and most importantly, in front of his family and fiancée, who had travelled overseas for the first time. And, importantly for Du Toit, ...

Premiership sides will have to fight valiantly to prevent Sundowns sealing sensational sextuple

Who will derail Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance as the domestic campaign kicks off?
As the new Premier Soccer League kicks into action on Friday, 5 August — following a two-month break — the prevailing discussion is on whether anyone can halt the dominant run of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Masandawana wrapped up the 2021/2022 season with 19 matches won from their total of 30 in the DStv Premiership, while they lost just three and drew eight.
That run sealed a record-extending fifth domestic league title in a row for the Tshwane giants, while stretching their overall league tally to 12 in the PSL era. The sides with the next-best haul are Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, with just four apiece.
With all this considered, a Sundowns side settled on its philosophy and playing style is once again the favourite to add another league title to its trophy cabinet.
However, Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi would prefer that his side is tested a bit more in the 2022/2023 season, rather than winning the title at a canter — as they did last season when the gap between them and second-placed Cape Town City was a mammoth 16 points after the dust had settled.
“In our failures in the Champions League, to a certain extent, I felt that if our league was a little bit more intense and other teams were pushing each other and us, we could have had a better chance in the Champions League,” said Mngqithi.
For all their dominant displays on the home front, where they sealed a treble by also clinching the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup, Masandawana flattered to deceive in the CAF Champions League.
The South Africans were mathematically the best-performing team during the group phase of last season’s Champions League, accumulating 16 points from a possible haul of 18. They also conceded the fewest goals (jointly), letting in just two (alongside Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Espérance of Tunisia).
The 2016 African champions then came unstuck against the Angolan outfit Petro Atlético in the quarterfinals. Mngqithi believes that had Masandawana been better tested domestically, it might have helped them advance their continental aspirations.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
“We’ve been doing well in the group stages, but who will remember that? We have to win the competition. Sundowns and Cape Town City are the representatives of the country [this season], so they have the bigger responsibility to make sure the trophy comes home,” ...

Manchester City and Liverpool remain favourites for new Premier League season

Champions Manchester City and constant rivals Liverpool will be the teams to beat again in the 2022/23 Premier League season.
The 2022/2023 English Premier League promises to excite and entertain every corner of the globe — as it often does — despite the small matter of a Fifa World Cup forcing it to a halt for six weeks in November and December.
The 2021/2022 Premier League was a whirlwind that went down to the last few kicks of the ball on the final day of the season.
That dramatic final day contained late comebacks as the Premier League title shifted from team to team with every other goal scored.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City eventually secured their sixth Premier League title and their second in succession — ensuring the ribbons on the Premier League trophy remained sky blue.
The 2022/2023 season kicks off on Friday night with Manchester City and Liverpool likely to compete for the title once again.
The challenge for a spot in the top four will also be tightly contested with Arsenal and Manchester United, in particular, seeking Champions League places after missing out last season.
Manchester City remain favourites for the title. Guardiola’s men often seem a few levels above the challengers in the league.
The silky interplay, seemingly telepathic movement and near flawless passing displayed by his side may look slightly different this season with the addition of highly acclaimed Norwegian striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.
Haaland is an out-and-out striker who prefers the ball to his feet, a contrast to Guardiola’s usual tiki-taka style of play, which he deployed successfully last season without a natural centre forward.
Manchester City also added Argentinian winger Julián Álvarez, who joins the side from River Plate, replacing outgoing stalwart forward Raheem Sterling.
City haven’t made too many changes to last season’s champion squad as they look to continue to dominate the league. City play the final match of the opening weekend against West Ham on Sunday evening at the London Stadium.
Top of the tree
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side finished one point behind the Sky Blues last season in a season where the Merseyside Reds battled it out for an unprecedented quadruple trophy haul — ending the season as FA Cup and Carabao Cup champions.
Liverpool have been Manchester City’s biggest rival in the Premier League in the past five seasons, claiming the trophy once and finishing within a three-point margin of the champions twice.
They start this season without Senegalese winger Sadio ...

Sundowns Ladies kick-start Champions League defence in Durban

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies will launch the defence of their continental crown this weekend by attempting to scale the first hurdle in this endeavour – the Cosafa Women’s Champions League qualifier.
In 2021, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies etched their names into the history books by becoming the first players to win the Caf Women’s Champions League, in its inaugural year.
Just under a year from that historic victory, the South Africans will begin their continental title defence by contesting the regional qualifier, which is organised by the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and will take place in Durban between 7 and 13 August.
Last season, Banyana Ba Style scored an incredible 22 goals across five games in these very qualifiers. They conceded just once. Those performances helped set the tone for success at the Champions League proper, in Egypt, where they were once again efficient on their way to the title.
Now the Tshwane giants are looking to extend their continental dominance into a second year as they go head-to-head with some of the finest teams on the continent.
First, Jerry Tshabalala’s team must overcome a hurdle, as they clash with some of the most impressive sides in southern Africa.
Masandawana are in Group A with Double Action Ladies of Botswana, who they beat 6-0 in last season’s group phase, as well as tournament debutants Costa do Sol from Mozambique.
“This is a very tricky draw for us because we find ourselves in a group that has a debutant from Mozambique. We have never had a chance to assess their strengths and they will be our opponents in the first game,” coach Tshabalala said.
“We have to rely on our strengths as a team because we believe in our philosophy and playing style that has earned us great success over the years.”
The Sundowns coach is also loath to underestimate the other side in Group A, despite how his side steamrolled them last time out.
“Yes, we came out on top last year against our opponents, but they may have changed a number of their personnel and players. I believe they have bolstered their team and I expect a different squad this time around,” said the long-time Sundowns mentor.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Sundowns Ladies once again the team to beat as Super League returns”
“We are not going to be complacent because we plan to work hard and treat each game as a final. Defending our title is the priority ...

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