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Former Spain boss Del Bosque tips Bolt to shine as a defender

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Usain Bolt lies on the pitch after taking a shot at goal during a friendly trial match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Central Coast Select [Courtesy]

Sprint king Usain Bolt has excellent potential as a footballer but may be best suited to playing in defence, according to Vicente del Bosque.

At 32, Bolt is attempting to embark on a new career after his athletics success, joining Australia’s Central Coast Mariners on an “indefinite” trial.

The Jamaican made his debut for the A-League club in a friendly against Central Coast Select XI last month, coming off the bench to play on the wing in a 6-1 victory.

The Jamaican made his debut for the A-League club in a friendly against Central Coast Select XI last month [Courtesy]

However, Del Bosque has suggested Bolt could prosper as a full-back, with the position offering him more space to utilise his blistering pace.

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“With space, he could be a very good footballer,” the former Spain coach told the Olympic Channel.

Former Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque [Courtesy]

“He could be a full-back that covers a lot of space, but it depends because it’s not just about covering 100, or 60 or 70 metres of the pitch.

“It’s about doing it many times over and that requires stamina which I don’t know whether he has or not – although I’m sure he has prepared.

“Without a doubt as a full-back, with his back towards the crowd and the touchline, that’s where he would be most useful.”

Bolt has previously spent time training with Borussia Dortmund, Mamelodi Sundowns and Stromsgodset to hone his football skills.

The eight-time Olympic champion is aiming to make up for lost time, with Del Bosque suggesting the reigning world record holder at both 100 and 200metres needs to focus on the technical side of the game.

“To start playing professional football at the age of 32 isn’t normal,” said ex-Real Madrid boss Del Bosque.

“It’s difficult because despite being in peak physical condition, I believe that the technical part is the fundamental part of football. A player’s fantastic conditioning – being fast, agile, powerful – should support the technical ability,” he said.

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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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