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Bayern down to sixth after defeat

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AFP

By AFP
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Bayern Munich dropped to sixth after Ramy Bensebaini’s injury time penalty fired Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach to a 2-1 win over the reigning champions on Saturday.

A second straight league loss puts pressure on Hansi Flick, who has been put in charge until January and was tipped to see out the season as interim boss after winning his first five games.

Bayern, now seven points adrift in the title race, went ahead at Borussia Park when Ivan Perisic fired home just after the break, but defender Bensebaini headed Gladbach level with an hour gone.

The Algerian then struck his decisive soppage-time penalty after Bayern’s Javi Martinez was sent off for a second yellow card.

There were wild scenes of celebrations from home fans at the final whistle of a game Bayern dominated for long stretches.

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But like last week’s 2-1 home loss to Bayer Leverkusen they only had themselves to blame as they squandered a string of chances.

Bayern had six clear first-half chances, two of which saw striker Robert Lewandowski fire wide.

They were denied the lead by goal-line technology on 29 minutes when Joshua Kimmich’s shot slid under Yann Sommer’s block, but the Gladbach goalkeeper scrambled and just managed to stop the ball fully crossing the line.

Bayern finally broke through when Perisic, a first-half replacement for injured Coretin Tolisso, hammered his shot on the turn to beat Sommer four minutes after half-time.

Surviving on less than 40 percent possession, Gladbach drew level on the hour mark against the run of play as they scored off their first clear chance.

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Midfielder Jonas Hofmann whipped in a corner and Bensebaini powered his header past Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Gladbach gained in confidence, but the game turned in the 90th minute when Bayern defender Javi Martinez gave a penalty away and was sent off for a clumsy tackle on Marcus Thuram in the area.

The Spain international trudged off after being shown second a yellow card as Bensebaini showed nerves of steel to convert the penalty.

Elsewhere, RB Leipzig stay second after their 3-1 home win against Hoffeneheim as Timo Werner grabbed the opener, then netted a second-half penalty to leave the Germany striker with 15 league goals this season.

Midfielder Marcel Sabitzer scored Leipzig’s late third goal before defender Erim Bicakcic pulled back a consolation goal for Hoffeheim just before the whistle.

Borussia Dortmund eased the pressure on coach Lucien Favre to go third with a 5-0 home romp against Fortuna Duesseldorf, who drop into the bottom three, as England winger Jadon Sancho and club captain Marco Reus both scored twice.

Having ground out a 2-1 win with 10 men at Jurgen Klinsmann’s relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin last weekend, Dortmund ran riot after the break at home with four second-half goals.

Reus put the hosts ahead at Signal Iduna Park, then combined with Sancho and Thorgan Hazard after the break to shred Duesseldorf’s defence.

Sancho had a goal ruled out for offside on 52 minutes, but set up Hazard four minutes later, before scoring Dortmund’s third goal with an hour gone after combining with Reus.

Reus, then Sancho both claimed their second goals inside a devastating four-minute spell just before the whistle.

Freiburg moved up to fifth, a point above Bayern, with a 1-0 win at home to Wolfsburg thanks to a second-half winner from Jonathan Schmid while mid-table Augsburg enjoyed a 2-1 win at home to Mainz.

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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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