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Bayern hoping to boost flagging confidence against Spurs

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Hansi Flick’s Bayern have lost successive Bundesliga games © AFP / Christof STACHE

MUNICH, Germany, Dec 10Bayern Munich are already through to the Champions League last 16 as group winners, but interim coach Hansi Flick wants his side to beat Tottenham on Wednesday to boost their confidence after back-to-back defeats.

“We need a win in front of our fans and we want to show them a good performance. That’s why tomorrow is an important step for us,” said Flick, who has been put in charge as caretaker coach until January.

After replacing Niko Kovac, who was sacked in early November, Flick got off to a flying start with five straight wins, scoring 16 goals and conceding none.

However, consecutive Bundesliga defeats over the last 10 days, 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen, then by the same scoreline at league leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, have dented confidence.

Bayern are now seventh in the table, seven points behind Gladbach.

If Bayern beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham they will become the first German club to win all six Champions League group-stage matches.

“We’ll try all we can to win at home,” said Flick, who ruled out resting any of his stars despite the game being a dead rubber with Spurs guaranteed to finish second in Group B behind Bayern.

“We’re going in the right direction, but we have to be critical with ourselves.

“We haven’t made the most of our chances in the last two games.”

Flick confirmed French midfielder Corentin Tolisso will miss the game with injury.

Despite scoring 27 goals in 22 games so far this season, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has failed to score in his last two matches.

“We have enough players who can score goals and I wouldn’t (say) we are dependent on his goals, everyone has to play their part,” insisted Flick.

Bayern thrashed Spurs 7-2 in north London in October as Serge Gnabry scored four goals.

“We want to regain that feeling of victory,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller. “A lot went right that night.

“Now it’s about confirming that we’re on the right track and gaining confidence to then go back to the Bundesliga.”

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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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