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Somalia, Djibouti fire blanks in CECAFA opener

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Djibouti striker Mahdi Houssein tries to go past Somalia’s Liban Abdiaziz and Ali Mohammed during their CECAFA Senior Challenge Group A opener at the Lugogo Stadium in Kampala on December 7, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 7 – Somalia and Djibouti played to a barren draw in rainy conditions in the opening match of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Lugogo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Riverains de la Mer Rouge as the Djibouti side is nicknamed will only have themselves to blame after creating most of the scoring chances, but couldn’t hit the back of the net especially in the first half when the pitch was better.

Djibouti were unlucky not to go into the breather with their tails up as they were twice denied by the upright and twice but brilliant goalkeeping from Somalia shot stopper Said Aweys Ali.

On the half hour mark, Mohamed Fouad picked up the ball brilliantly inside the box, but his first shot was blocked by a brilliant save from Ali. He picked up the rebound , but his second bite on the cherry ended up cracking under the bar.

Seven minutes later, Fouad was denied by the bar once again, this time his stinging shot from distance catching the keeper off guard.

It was a balanced game, but Djibouti had most of the opportunities to score.

Djibouti midfielder Warsama Hassan tries to go past Somalia’s Yonis Abdirizak during their CECAFA Senior Challenge Group A opener at the Lugogo Stadium in Kampala on December 7, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

As early as the second minute Abdulkaber Djama had a chance, but his touch from Mohamed Boourham’s shot from inside the box went wide.

Mahdi Houssein had another chance later when he ran into a ball planted behind the defense, but he took a hurried shot when he had acres of space ahead of him, his effort sliding wide.

Somalia were exciting with their touches, but unfortunately didn’t have much to show for it. Omar Abdulahi Mohammed was their best player with his deft touches and quick turns, but it was only entertainment to the fans but nothing to change the statistic of goals scored.

In the second half, play was made difficult with heavy rains pounding the Ugandan capital and a water logged pitch made it difficult for the ball to move freely.

There were a few chances with Ahmed Youssouf having a curling effort go just wide wile Fouad had another opportunity when he broke into the box, but took too much time on the ball with his eventual shot blocked.

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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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