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Afraha Stadium Annex not spared effects of deadly virus

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FRANCIS MUREITHI

By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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As local sports continues to grapple with the effects of Covid-19 disease, Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium Annex has become the latest victim of the deadly pandemic that has disrupted sports globally.

The facility, sitting on 10 acres, has been converted into a one big temporary open air market after the county government shifted the Wakulima Market to the area from Nakuru’s Central Business District in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, and to enforce rules on social distance among people.

Nakuru County Sub-branch League has been suspended indefinitely, keeping more than 42 teams out of action.

The teams that use Afraha Annex as its home ground include Nakuru Youth Sports Association (NYSA) FC, Twomoc Youth FC, Mini-Star FC, Freehold FC and AC Nakuru.

According to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Nakuru sub-branch secretary Eliakim Mbalilwa, once the league resumes after coronavirus has been contained, matches scheduled to be played at Afraha Stadium Annex will be shifted to Kamukunji Sports grounds, St Theresa and Kimathi Primary schools respectively.

“The league was postponed until further notice because of coronavirus pandemic and it is likely to be delayed even further if the crisis persists,” said Mbalilwa.

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The league was programmed to end in July, but it is unlikely to beat the timelines.

By the time the league was disrupted, competing teams had played nine matches each, Mbalilwa said.

The league is divided in two zones – Western and Eastern – each having 21 teams.

Nyayo Stars lead Western zone with 14 points, followed by United Legends with 12. Humberg Simba Njoro, Kampi ya Moto and Nakuru Hope have 10 points each.

In Eastern Zone, Greenstead FC and Kivumbini are joint top with 16 points each, while NYSA, on 13 points, are third. Madaraka Youth are fourth with 12 points while Beef Research Lanet follow with 12 points.

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As of Friday, Nakuru County had two confirmed cases of Covid-19, but health officials have said the numbers are expected to rise as the two individuals who have turned positive for the deadly virus had been mingling freely with the residents before they were confined to a quarantine centre at Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI).

Mbalilwa also announced that the sub-branch has reorganised the fixtures and teams will be playing two matches on weekends when the competition resumes.

“As a branch, we are in close talks with the club officials and once the league resumes the teams will play two matches every Saturday and Sunday to enable us conclude the league as planned,” added Mbalilwa.

He urged players to obey the government’s health directives, and to adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines to combat the pandemic.

“I urge the players to remain at home because we will need them once the crisis is over. The league will resume immediately,” said Mbalilwa.

He further urged the devolved unit to give the repair of the Afraha Annex Stadium top priority once the crisis is over.

“The Annex is crucial to the development of football in Nakuru East as the pitch is also used by teams in National Super League,” said Mbalilwa.

Also disrupted by the turning of Afraha Annex into a makeshift market is the sitting volleyball team.

Coach Florence Ofwenje said their training programme has been put on hold and all players have been told to stay at home.

“We were training for an open tournament in Trans Nzoia County but we have been forced to cancel the training until further notice,” said Ofwenje.

Afraha Annex and the main stadium are earmarked for major renovation to international standards but with the pandemic, construction work is likely to be delayed.

A goal post at Afraha Stadium Annex which has been converted into a makeshift open air market as coronavirus pandemic take a toll on sports facilities in Nakuru County.

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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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