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Son scores stunner as Spurs crush Burnley

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Son Heung-min (C) celebrates after his stunning strike in Tottenham’s win against Burnley © AFP / Ian KINGTON

LONDON, United Kingdom, Dec 7Son Heung-min scored a sublime contender for the Premier League’s goal of the season as the South Korean’s moment of genius inspired Tottenham’s 5-0 rout of Burnley on Saturday.

On the day he was presented with the AFC Asian International Player of the Year award by compatriot Park Ji-sung, Son underlined his place among the game’s elite with arguably the greatest effort of his glittering career.

With Spurs already rampant after early goals from Harry Kane and Lucas Moura, Son stole the show before half-time when he ran from deep inside his own half past a host of Burnley defenders and capped the astonishing burst with an ice-cool finish.

Since christening the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with its first senior goal last season, Son has now been directly involved in 15 goals in 15 appearances at the plush north London arena.

Son’s 77 goals in Spurs colours since his 2015 move from Bayer Leverkusen have featured some memorable moments but none have been quite as dazzling as this one.

The 27 year-old winger’s 10th goal of the season ranks among the best ever scored by a Tottenham player, alongside Ricky Villa’s 1981 FA Cup final gem and Gareth Bale’s Champions League classic against Inter Milan in 2010.

It was the culmination of a swaggering Tottenham display that featured further goals from Kane and Moussa Sissoko, putting them back on track after their 100 per cent start under new boss Jose Mourinho was ended by Wednesday’s defeat at his former club Manchester United.

As if Son’s masterclass wasn’t enough to lift Mourinho’s spirits, Tottenham also kept the first clean-sheet of his reign after conceding twice in each of his first four matches.

Tottenham are up to fifth place, six points behind fourth placed Chelsea, after their fourth win in five games in all competitions under Mourinho.

Aware that his players were feeling sorry for themselves in the Old Trafford dressing room on Wednesday, Mourinho urged them to respond to the first setback of his reign by showing “rage and anger”.

It took just five minutes to see Mourinho’s impassioned plea had the desired effect.

Son laid a cushioned pass into Kane’s path and, with the Burnley defence backing off too far, he advanced unchecked before blasting a thunderous 25-yard strike past Nick Pope.

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min (L) shoots past Burnley’s Nick Pope © AFP / Ian KINGTON

Tottenham were pouring forward with such pace and poise that Burnley were powerless to stem the tide as Mourinho’s men struck again four minutes later.

– Jaw-dropping –

Son was involved again with a scintillating run and low shot that Pope blocked into the path of Burnley defender Ben Mee, who deflected it high into the air.

Dele Alli flicked a back header towards the net and Lucas was on hand to tap in his fourth goal of the season from virtually on the goal-line.

Mourinho slept at Tottenham’s training ground immediately after flying back from Manchester, allowing him extra time to work on the Burnley game-plan, but even he couldn’t have drawn up Son’s 32nd minute stunner.

Taking possession on the edge of his own penalty area, Son looked for a pass before deciding the best option was to go it alone.

He accelerated with such speed that in the blink of an eye he was past McNeil’s challenge and through a Burnley defence still regrouping from their own attack.

After evading Eric Pieters’ despairing lunge, Son was face to face with Pope and his clinical low strike was the perfect finish to a jaw-dropping goal.

Tottenham weren’t finished yet and Kane got his second in the 54th minute, cleverly gliding away from two Burnley defenders before firing into the roof of the net from 18 yards for his 15th club goal of another prolific season.

Sissoko’s emphatic drive rounded off Tottenham’s biggest league win of the season in the 74th minute.

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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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