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Harambee Stars clip Sudan, storm to CECAFA semis

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Jacob Icia in Kampala

Harambee Stars needed two second half goals to sink a stubborn Sudan 2-1 and seal a semi final ticket in the ongoing CECAFA Senior Challenge championship in Uganda, at the KCCA Lugogo Stadium.

Substitute Hassan Abdallah and Oscar Wamalwa were on target, to cancel Mohammed Abbas Namir’s first half goal with the Bandari FC man netting his second for the tournament.

“It was unfortunate that we conceded first and Sudan were keen to sit back seeking to hit us on counter attacks. I was therefore always directing from the touchline the boys to show more urgency, which really paid off in the second half,” Kenya’s assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno said in the post-match interview.

His Sudan counterpart Mohammed Moussa Dawoud felt his team was unfairly treated.

“We were denied a penalty in the first half that would have made a major difference by the time we were coming to the second half. It is however done, and I congratulate Kenya.”

Flawless expression

In the seventh minute, Sudan’s Bakhit Khamis came close after finding acres of space from the centre, but shot off target. Mudavadi had his chance a minute later, having been found near the area by Kenneth Muguna but his effort was blocked for corner.

The proceedings were relatively cold, with neither Stars nor Sudan making serious threats, a lot of caution hampering flawless expression on both ends.

Just at the half hour mark, Abbas Namir broke the deadlock with a simple finish having lost his markers, an exposed Samuel Odhiambo doing little to deny.

Isuza had a chance in the 39th having turned swiftly in the box only to slide forth a poor feeble shot direct to Sudan’s keeper Mohamed Abdulla.

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Having watched a quite uninspiring first stanza, Stars coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, taking the role of suspended head coach Francis Kiamnzi introduced Abdallah Hassan and Tusker FC’s Timothy Otieno in the 50th, resting Mudavadi and Isuza respectively.

As if Abadallah was the man carrying  the team, he perfectly headed in Muguna’s free kick in the 64th past Abdulla consequently restoring calm in Stars nerves who were hitherto quite unsettled.

Four minutes later, Wamalwa thought he had fired Kenya ahead after powering past Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed from a Muguna pass, but the flag was up by the time he buried the ball into the net.

But he kept on knocking, and his efforts were rewarded in the 76th, connecting substitute Otieno’s cross to make it 2-1.

With eight minutes on the clock, Wamalwa was in prime position to seal a brace from Kevin Kimani’s cross on the right but could not beat a fast Abdulla oin the six yard box.

Kimani was rested for Daniel Sakari at the death, as Zico tossed his last dice looking to avoid a last minute mistake.




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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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