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Battered South Africa need the Guardiola touch, says coach

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Enoch Nkwe said he wants to see South Africa follow Guardiola’s innovative style © AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN

VISAKHAPATNAM, India, Oct 7Cricket coach Enoch Nkwe wants to channel the philosophy of title-laden football manager Pep Guardiola to turn the suffering South African side into a winning force.

Following India’s 203-run mauling of his team in the first Test on Sunday, captain Faf du Plessis and Nkwe pleaded for patience as the squad rebuilds after Dale Steyn’s and Hashim Amla’s retirement.

Nkwe, 36, said he wants to see South Africa follow Guardiola’s innovative style and produce a brave team — but he warned it would take time.

“What I want is this team to have the courage, in certain situations, to really back themselves,” he said.

“I suppose that every coach that comes in has a different philosophy.”

Nkwe has only an interim contract with South Africa so far, and was appointed for the Indian tour.

He caught the attention of the South African public and national federation after making a spectacular start as a coach, winning the four-day and T20 titles with the Highveld Lions in one year.

Nkwe said South Africa must “be able to control sessions a lot longer for period of time with both bat or ball.

“But also be a lot smarter and be very innovative in certain situations.”

He said he was looking forward to how his team recovers from the past setbacks, and responds to each match.

The team put up a spirited fight before Mohammed Shami’s 5-35 on the final day dealt a devastating blow to the tourists in Visakhapatnam.

Opening batsman Dean Elgar stood out with his 160 in South Africa’s first innings score of 431.

Nkwe said Guardiola has a knack of improving systems, and admires his total passion for football — something that resonated with his love for cricket.

“I feel I have so much to offer to the game, especially back in our country.”

– India challenge –

Nkwe’s dream was to make a difference in people’s lives, he said, and feels now he can.

Nkwe played only 42 first class games in the South African provinces before injury cut short his career © AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN

“I will keep driving forward to ensure that the team keeps growing, keeps believing in themselves that they can achieve greater heights.”

Nkwe, who played only 42 first class games in the South African provinces before injury cut short his career, said the challenge of touring India will define the team’s character in the coming years.

“My biggest focus is to help this team create a strong foundation. We have lot of work behind the scenes [so] that this team grows in the next four years,” he said.

“Ultimately it’s about the big picture and we need to be patient with players that might take a bit of time to produce the type of performances we are looking forward to.

“And this is a great place to see that. What sort of character of the team we have and what sort of areas we need to really look at and look to rectify as quickly as possible.”

With the second Test starting in Pune on Thursday, Nkwe has some quick thinking to do to start lifting his team.

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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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