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Wambani hoping for seior team chance

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Harambee Stars midfielder Anthony Wambani when he made his debut for the national team against Tanzania during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala, Uganda on December 8, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 11 – Sweden based midfielder Anthony Wambani says he hopes to use the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda as a stepping stone to endear himself closer to coach Francis Kimanzi ahead of next year’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The midfielder moved to Swedish third tier side Vasalund IF from Bandari in the middle of 2018, but is yet to get a proper opportunity at the national team.

With the Swedish league having finished in November, Kimanzi called up the youngster to see more of him and also hand him a chance to impress at the Senior Challenge Cup.

“He is a good players and we wanted to see more of him. It is an opportunity for everyone because we want to build depth around the team for next year. I was impressed with how he played but most times, you cannot judge much from one game,” Kimanzi said of the midfielder’s performance.

Wambani made his national team debut in the opening day 1-0 win over Tanzania playing 85 minutes but wasn’t part of the match day squad against Sudan as he was hit with a bout of flu on the night of the game.

Wambani however believes he will do his best to ensure he endears himself to Kimanzi.

“The coach called me and because the league in Sweden was over, I decided to come and do my best to help the team. It is an opportunity for me to showcase my talent and if the coach will be interested in me, then I will be there in the upcoming games,” Wambani further stated.

He added; “Being here is a good challenge for us because there are very good teams and tough matches help you become better.”

His maiden season in Sweden has been injury hit and he couldn’t amass much playing time, but he believes playing at the Senior Challenge Cup will offer him more confidence especially as he moves back to club business at the start of next year.

“It has been a good season in Sweden, just that I had a few injuries that slowed me down but at least I finished the season well and I am hoping for better things next season. I want to try and get to play more not only at club level but the national team as well,” he added.

Wambani played at Vasalund with compatriots Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma and Ovela Ochieng, though Marcelo has now secured a move to the top tier with Vasalund’s parent club AIK.

Wambani believes Marcelo’s move is a motivation for both him and Ovela to continue working so as to follow in his footsteps.

“He has posed a good challenge to us and it is always nice seeing one of your friends prosper and move to the top. Now we are challenged by him to work harder so that we get such big opportunities,” stated the midfielder.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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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