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Abdallah strike soars Kenya over Tanzania

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Abdallah Hassan celebrates after scoring Kenya’s goal against Tanzania during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala on December 8, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 8 – Harambee Stars started their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup title defense with a hard earned 1-0 victory over Tanzania in their Group B opening match at the Lugogo Complex on Sunday evening.

Bandari FC forward Abdallah Hassan scored the lone goal in the fourth minute as Stars rose to the summit of the group with maximum points after Sudan and Zanzibar shared spoils in the first match in a 1-1 draw.

Coach Francis Kimanzi handed first team debuts to several of his players. Anthony Wambani who has been playing his trade in the Swedish third tier with Vasalund IF was handed a role in midfield while Ulinzi Stars’ Oscar Wamalwa also had his chance starting in attack.

Samuel Odhiambo, a late call up to replace injured Brian Bwire was also handed his national team debut with youngster Timothy Odhiambo starting on the bench.

Stars got into the lead early, Hassan striking a low shot past keeper Aishi Manula after being tied up nicely inside the box by debutant Oscar Wamalwa.

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But  the Tanzanians did not could themselves despite conceding early and had two chances to get back on level terms. In the seventh minute, Athumani Miraji tried his luck with a freekick from the edge of the area but it went just over.

Two minutes later, Muzamiru Yassin picked the ball from range and went for a shot, but Odhiambo smothered it behind for a corner.

On the other end , Hassan should have scored his second of the evening but his shot from the edge of the area went over.

Some neat play after Kevin Kimani had won the ball on the left saw Lawrence Juma tee up the Bandari man after a lovely flick from Kenneth Muguna, but he could not keep his shot down.

On the half hour mark, Wamalwa had a go at goal when he controlled David Owino’s cross inside the box, but his eventual effort with a volley went wide.

Tanzania had been pressing Kenya forcing them to play in their own half, but Kimanzi’s boys stuck to their tactical discipline to endure they did not leave spaces behind them.

Typical of how they started the first half, Stars started the second with as much pace and desire. Ten minutes in, Bakari Mwamnyeto made a vital  clearance to turn the ball behind for a corner and get the ball, of Wamalwa’s path with an open goalmouth.

On the hour mark, Wamalwa came close off a counter when he took a brilliant run on the right but his final effort hit the side netting.

Kimanzi then swung into his first change, Kimani coming off for Clifton Miheso in a like for like switch. With 10 minutes left, Wambani was rested for Whyvonne Isuza, the only player in the squad that was part of the 2017 squad.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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