Goodbye and thank you

The final whistle

This is a sad day for us at the.sports.letter as we have decided to blow the final whistle on our daily summary of sports stories. We have been sending out a brief overview of sport since September last year, but unfortunately have never managed to make it pay for itself.

We have finally decided that as much as we have had lots of fun, it has turned into a labour of love that is taking up too much of our time – and we cannot pay for food and rent with love. So we need to try and do some real work that earns real money (unless of course there is somebody out there who knows a corporate that wants to pay us to send a daily sports letter to their clients each day – hint, hint!).

Before we go off into the changerooms, there are a few thank-yous which I need to put out there.

Firstly, thank you to Louisa for proof reading every morning. As much as I would like to blame her for all the mistakes, that would be grossly unfair because she picked up way more errors than she let through. It is beyond the normal duties expected of a wife to have to read through a thousand or so words about sport before 7am every morning – even if she was well paid in cups of tea. She does not even like sport that much (well, she didn’t, but the way we have been discussing the intricacies of the Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon and Afcon lately, I think she has discovered a secret pleasure – and may now even understand the offside rule). I also know she will be pleased my alarm will not be going off at 5am every morning.

Secondly, thank you to trio who allowed me to steal their idea and create a spinoff of their wonderful daily overview of news. If you have not already signed up to get the, I recommend you head over to and subscribe. It may not be as important as sport, but theirs is a fun look at the daily news every day and a great read each afternoon.

Thirdly, thank you to all who subscribed and read the.sports.letter each day – or even just once or twice. I hope you have enjoyed reading our views as much as we have enjoyed writing them.

And finally, thank you to all the sportsmen we have mentioned in the past few months. We are truly blessed to have so many passionate sportsmen and women in this country and as much as our sports heroes have not exactly been shining lately, I am sure the pendulum will swing back toward major trophies – maybe even at the Rugby World Cup?

Good bye, and good luck!

Tim Whitfield

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11 July 2019 – RUGBY: Wing with a big heart | FOOTBALL: Eagles’ late goal dive bombs SA hopes | TENNIS: Fed v Rafa: 11 years later | MOTOGP: Binder steps up


Wing with a big heart

Combative Springbok wing James Small passed away yesterday after he was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack. Small, who played 47 Tests for South Africa and scored 20 tries, is probably best remembered for marking All Black giant Jonah Lomu during the 1995 World Cup final which South Africa won. The Natal, Transvaal and Western Province wing was known for his in-your-face attitude on the field, and he had numerous run-ins with players and officials – including becoming the first Springbok to be sent off, for dissent against English referee Ed Morrison. Former referee Jonathan Kaplan summed him up perfectly yesterday when he tweeted that Small “wasn’t the easiest oke to ref on the field, but one of the kindest off it”. Small made his Springbok debut against New Zealand in 1992 and played his final match for South Africa against Scotland in 1997. Small is the third member of the 1995 World Cup winning squad to pass away, after flanker Ruben Kruger and scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen. You can read Sport24’s collection of tributes to Small here and the Wallabies’ and All Blacks’ messages here. SA Rugby Mag put together a few video clips here and Rugby365 posted a gallery of pictures here.

RIP James Small – 1969-2019 (Photo: SA Rugby)

Eagles’ late goal dive bombs SA hopes

South Africa were cruelly knocked out of the African Cup of Nations last night but nobody can deny Nigeria deserved to win the quarter-final match. The 2-1 scoreline, as heart-breaking as it was for South Africans, was a fair reflection of the match. Nigeria went into the break 1-0 up thanks to a beautifully worked goal from young Samuel Chukwueze. VAR looked to have rescued Bafana in the 71st minute when Bongani Zungu headed home the equaliser off a free kick. The South African was clearly offside for the final pass, but the off-field referees picked up that the ball had deflected off a Nigerian defender and the goal counted. In the 89th minute, just as the match was heading to extra time, William Troost-Ekong netted the winner off a corner for Nigeria. In the semi-finals Nigeria will play the winner of today’s quarter-final between Ivory Coast and Algeria. In the first quarter-final yesterday, Senegal beat Benin 1-0 and will take on the winner of today’s match between underdogs Madagascar and Tunisia.

Fed v Rafa: 11 years later

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal overcame first-set challenges to eventually race into the semi-finals and set up their first Wimbledon meeting since their epic 2008 final. Federer dropped the opening set to eighth seed Kei Nishikori before stepping up a gear and claiming his 100th Wimbledon match victory with a 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 win. Nadal battled to a tight 7-5 win in the opening set against Sam Querrey and then raced through the next two 6-2 6-2. The respective wins set up a repeat of the 2008 decider which captivated the tennis world as Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth. On the other side of the draw, Roberto Bautista Agut will have to be at his best on Friday if he hopes to get the better of top seed Novak Djokovic in their semi-final. After a slow start when David Goffin was break up and 4-3 ahead in the opening set, Djokovic found top gear and won the next ten games in a row. From there the shell-shocked Goffin was able to win just two more games as he went down 6-4 6-0 6-2 in under two hours. Agut also had to work a bit before easing past Guido Pella 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. South Africa’s Raven Klaasen and his New Zealand partner Michael Venus twice had to fight back from a set down to get into the semi-finals of the men’s doubles tournament. The third seeds beat Australia’s John Peers and Finland’s Henri Kontinen 4-6 6-3 6-7 6-4 6-3 in a gruelling three-hour quarter-final. Raven and Klaasen will play second seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the semi-final. In today’s women’s singles semi-finals, Serena Williams is up against Barbora Strycova and Simona Halep takes on Elina Svitolina. The smart money is on a Williams v Halep final, but then Williams and former champion Andy Murray were the favourites to claim the mixed doubles crown and they were beaten 6-3 4-6 6-2 by Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares in the third round yesterday, so that is not always a reliable indicator.

NZ bowl themselves into the final

New Zealand bowled their way to a stunning 18-run semi-final victory over India in a two-day ODI in Manchester yesterday. The win takes the Black Caps into their second successive final at the Cricket World Cup where they will play the winner of today’s semi-final between England and Australia. When the match resumed yesterday there was consensus that India were well on their way to the final, and even when the Kiwis took their overnight score to 239 for eight nobody was giving them much chance. However, four overs into the Indian innings, with the score on five for three and KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli all back in the changerooms with just one run apiece, the pendulum had swung firmly in favour of the New Zealanders. Dinesh Karthik followed shortly thereafter, leaving India on 24 for four. Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni produced a perfectly-paced 116-run partnership to drag the 2011 winners back in contention. But when Jadeja was caught and then Dhoni was run out by a direct hit from Martin Guptill, the Indian World Cup challenge was over.

Binder steps up to MotoGP

Former Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder has secured a MotoGP ride with KTM for 2020. Binder made his Grand Prix debut in 2011 in the 125cc class before securing a full-time Moto3 ride in 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, Binder was on the podium six times before a stellar 2016 Moto3 campaign saw him win seven races on his way to claiming the 2016 World Championship. The South African has had mixed results since moving up to Moto2 in 2017. He claimed three back-to-back podiums in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia in his first year, and in 2018 he won his first Moto2 race in Germany and followed that up with wins in Aragon and Australia to finish third in the overall standings. This year he struggled until new parts on his bike led to second-place finishes in the two most recent Grands Prix. Binder will ride for the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 team in the premier class in 2020.

Sagan wins as mountains loom

Three-time World Champion Peter Sagan secured his first win of this year’s Tour de France when he sprinted to victory in Colmar on Stage Five of the cycle race around France. The win was the 12th stage win of Sagan’s career and he was followed home by Wout van Aert and Matteo Trentin in a bunch sprint. Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe retained the leader’s yellow jersey as the overall race favourites all finished safely in the main peleton. There is likely to be a major shuffle of the leaders after today’s stage which is the first real test of the three-week race. Today’s 160.5km route starts at Mulhouse and ends with this year’s first mountain-top finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. There are seven classified climbs and the top contenders are likely to be filling the top ten overall positions at the end of the day.


Wipeouts galore

Not sure if this really is sport, but it if you are one of those people who take delight in watching cyclists crash you will probably enjoy Reuters’ Epic wipeouts galore at London Soapbox derby. There are some engineering marvels and some spectacular failures, but the Red Bull-sponsored event looks like a lot of fun for the spectators – and a bit painful for some of the competitors.


Bad winner is worse than a bad loser


Semis, quarters and a mountain or two

This week’s standard fare of cricket, tennis, cycling and football continues today for the armchair fans, but there is a little extra gravy with a couple of golf tournaments adding to the variety on our TV screens. The second semi-final at the Cricket World Cup has Australia and England battling for the right to meet New Zealand in the final this weekend. The big tennis matches from Wimbledon today are the women’s semi-finals, while the final two quarter-finals from the African Cup of Nations will be broadcast this evening. Cyclists can watch the first mountain stage of the Tour de France which should give the first real clues as to who are serious challengers for the overall title. And then the golf features two tournaments: The Scottish Open from the European Tour and the John Deere Classic from the US PGA Tour.

Today’s live TV highlights

Cricket CSN SS2 11:20-20:00 ICC Cricket World Cup:
Semi-final 2: Australia v England
Golf SS7 11:30-19:30 European Tour: Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open Day 1
Tennis SS12 12:30-22:00 Wimbledon:
2nd Feed: Day 10
Cycling SS5 12:55-18:00 Tour De France: Stage 6: Mulhouse / La Planche des Belles Filles 160.5km
Tennis SS6 13:55-22:00 Wimbledon:
Day 10: Ladies' Semi-finals
Football SS4 17:50-20:00 Total Africa Cup of Nations:
Quarter-final 3: Algeria v Ivory Coast
Football SS4 20:50-23:00 Total Africa Cup of Nations:
Quarter-final 4: Madagascar v Tunisia
Golf CSN SS1 22:00-01:00 PGA Tour:
John Deere Classic Day 1

Full list of weekend live TV here.

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10 July 2019 – FOOTBALL: Bafana must down the Eagles | CRICKET: India on top going into Day 2 | TENNIS: Serena, Simona fight back


Bafana must down the Eagles

South Africa go into their Afcon quarter-final against Nigeria this evening as the underdogs, but that is a label they will be happy getting used to. If Bafana are to achieve the impossible and claim the title next week, they will probably have to overcome that tag twice more, in the semi-final and again in the final. Nigeria come into the match on the back of a gutsy come-from-behind goal-fest where they beat Cameroon 3-2. The three goals the Super Eagles scored in that one match are more than Bafana have scored in the entire tournament so far. And that sums up the problem facing South African coach Stuart Baxter. Bafana has built an enviable record as a defensive unit, but the team has struggled to find the back of the net. What will give Baxter hope is the result from the Afcon qualification match where South Africa beat Nigeria 2-0, although that was way back in 2017. The match between South Africa and Nigeria kicks off at 9pm and Senegal v Benin starts at 6pm.

Bafana fans will be hoping the PSL Player of the Year, Thembinkosi Lorch, can find the net again today. Photo: Twitter / Bafana

India on top going into Day 2

India’s bowlers, and the rain, dominated the first semi-final of the Cricket World Cup. New Zealand inched their way to 211 for five after 46.1 overs when the umpires called the players off for rain yesterday. The New Zealand batsmen struggled to get the ball away, and with wickets falling regularly India looked to be in control from the first over which was a maiden. The match will resume this morning from where it left off. That means New Zealand have five wickets in hand and 23 balls to push their score along enough to create a defendable total against the potent Indian batting lineup. With more rain predicted for today, if India do not get to bat at least 20 overs so as to constitute a match, they will go into the final as the higher-placed team on the round-robin log standings (full scoreboard).

Old warhorses fight on

So much for the Next Gen of up and coming stars. The three old warhorses, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, head into today’s Wimbledon quarterfinals as the players to beat – with good reason. Between them they have won 14 of the last 16 Wimbledon titles and have claimed the past 10 Grand Slam titles. And just to prove they are not living on past reputations, they raced through their Fourth Round matches by dropping a combined total of just 19 games and, incredibly, faced just one break point between them. Today’s quarter-final lineup has top seed Djokovic facing David Goffin (21st seed); Federer (2) will be aiming for his 100th win at Wimbledon when he takes on Kei Nishikori (8); Nadal (3) on paper has the easiest match against Sam Querrey (unseeded); and Roberto Bautista Agut (23) clashes with giant-killing Guido Pella (26).

Serena, Simona fight back

Serena Williams had to dig deep to get past Alison Riske in their Wimebledon quarter-final yesterday. Williams eventually emerged as the 6-4 4-6 6-3 victor, but she was in deep trouble when she was a break down early in the final set. However, the 37 year old moved within two matches of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by smashing 49 winners past Riske as she capitalised on her power game. In other quarter-finals Simona Halep moved a step closer to her second Grand Slam title by fighting back from 4-1 and three break points down in the first set to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 6-1. In the semi-finals on Thursday, Williams will take on Czech veteran Barbora Strycova, who beat Johanna Konta7-6 6-1; and Halep will face the eighth seed Elina Svitolina from Ukraine, who beat Karolina Muchova 7-5 6-4.

White: Reward the team with the ball

Jake White this week called for a change in the rugby laws to favour sides who have possession of the ball. Writing for, the former Springbok coach used this weekend’s Super Rugby final as an example of a team that kicked away their possession but still were able to win the match. White supports the 50/22 rule which is being considered by World Rugby. The rule awards a lineout to the kicking team if the ball is kicked from inside their own half and goes into touch in the opponents 22. The theory is that the wings would have to drop back to cover touch inside their 22s, while the fullback would have to cover deep kicks down the middle. That would in turn create a numerical advantage and space for the attacking team. Click here to read White’s full column.


Rapinoe’s greatest heartbreak … and hope

The Women’s World Cup top player Megan Rapinoe has a complicated relationship with the person who introduced her to soccer – her brother Brian. When he was 15, Brian brought meth to school and has been in and out of jail ever since. At 15, Megan played with the youth US national team. Brian was inked with swastika tattoos – an allegiance to white supremacy he now disavows; Megan was the first prominent white athlete to kneel to protest racial inequality. This feature by ESPN explains why Brian is Megan’s greatest heartbreak … and hope.


Serena still dominates


Wimbledon, Afcon, Tour and a bonus

There should be plenty of exciting sporting action on our TV screens today. All four Wimbledon men’s quarter-finals will be broadcast into our lounges today on two channels, with the Big Three of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal all in action. Cycling fans have 169km Stage Five of the Tour de France to watch. Finally the first two African Cup of Nations quarter finals wrap up the day’s action with South Africa taking on Nigeria at 9pm. And, thanks to the rain yesterday, we get to see a bonus day of cricket as the first semi-final between India and New Zealand goes into its second day – think this will be classified as a TDI (two-day international)?

Today’s live TV highlights

Tennis SS6 12:30-22:00 Wimbledon:
Day 9: Men's Quarter-finals
Cycling SS5 13:05-18:00 Tour De France:
Stage 5: SAint-Dié-des-Vosges / Colmar 169km
Tennis SS12 14:00-22:00 Wimbledon:
2nd Feed: Day 9
Shooting SS11 15:50-17:00 ISSF World Championship Shotgun:
Skeet Women
Football SS4 17:50-20:00 Total Africa Cup of Nations:
Quarter-final 1: Senegal v Benin
Football SS4 20:50-23:00 Total Africa Cup of Nations:
Quarter-final 2: Nigeria v South Africa

Full list of weekend live TV here.

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9 July 2019 – TENNIS: Riske and reward | CRICKET: India confident | RUGBY: Drug scandal threatens Jake’s team


Riske and reward

The Wimbledon fairytale ended yesterday with Cori “Coco” Gauff finding Simona Halep a step too far as the former world number one raced to a 6-3 6-3 victory. In an action-packed start to the second week of the tournament there were plenty of talking points, but the exit of teenage sensation overshadowed them all – even the defeats to top seed Ashleigh Barty (beaten 3-6 6-2 6-3 by unseeded Alison Riske), third seed Karolina Pliskova (beaten 4-6 7-5 13-11 by Karolina Muchova) and sixth seed Petra Kvitova (beaten 4-6 6-2 6-4 by Johanna Konta). After Halep lost her opening service game and served three consecutive double faults in her second, it is hard to believe she was dominant pretty much throughout her match against Gauff. The former world number one used her experience to move the teenager round the court and Gauff, who never looked settled, gave away a massive 29 unforced errors in just 18 games. In other women’s matches, Serena Williams raced past Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-2 in just 64 minutes to set up a meeting with Riske. The losses for Barty, Pliskova and Kvitova mean Halep (seeded 7), Elina Svitolina (8), Williams (11) and Konta (19) are the only seeds remaining in the women’s draw as they go into today’s quarter-finals. For the men, the “Big Three” of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all raced into the quarter finals in straight sets. South Africa’s lone hope for Wimbledon glory, Raven Klaasen and his New Zealand doubles partner Michael Venus, eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 win over Robin Haase and Frederik Nielsen.

Raven Klaasen, pictured here in the 2018 Wimbledon doubles final, and Michael Venus are through to the quarter-finals. Photo: Wimbledon.

India confident of final spot

11 years ago Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson were opposing captains in the semi-final of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. Today Kohli will be hoping for a similar three-wicket win for India while Williamson will be looking for a long-awaited revenge for New Zealand. India go into the rematch as the overwhelming favourites with batsmen and bowlers high on confidence after a near-perfect run through the pool stages of this tournament. The only blemish to their record was a loss to England when chasing a 338 to win. In contrast New Zealand come into the semi-final on the back of three losses in a row with a batting unit struggling to put partnerships together, most notably for the opening wicket. This World Cup has seen chasing sides struggle to get over the line, so New Zealand’s best chance of victory may just be winning the toss and batting first.

Tunisia finally beat Ghana

Ivory Coast and Tunisia completed the quarter-final lineup at the African Cup of Nations last night. Ivory Coast eased past Mali 1-0 while Tunisia ousted Ghana with a 5-4 penalty shootout after the teams ended extra time with a goal apiece. Tunisia looked to have the match sewn up before substitute Rami Bedoui scored an own goal with his first touch of the ball in the 89th minute. The winning draw for Tunisia means they have reached the quarter-finals without winning a match after three draws in the group phase and a now a fourth in the Round of 16. The shootout was their first victory over Ghana in 54 years at the Afcon tournament. Tunisia will now play Madagascar in the quarters on Thursday while Ivory Coast take on Algeria. The other two quarter finals tomorrow see South Africa take on Nigeria and Senegal clash with Benin.


Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe produced a magnificent show of power with a long solo breakaway to take over the lead after stage three of the Tour de France yesterday. The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider took a huge gamble with his long-range effort, but his solo ride over the final 16km of the stage left him as the first French rider to hold the overall lead since Tony Gallopin wore yellow in 2014. His 26-second stage win over Australian Michael Matthews means Alaphilipe holds a 20 seconds lead on Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) in the overall standings.

Early move for Du Preez twins?

Reports indicate the Sale Sharks are hoping to persuade their Durban namesakes to release the Du Preez twins early. KZN Sharks loose forwards Jean-Luc and Dan are due to permanently join older brother Robert at the Sale Sharks after the 2020 Super Rugby season. Rapport newspaper on Sunday reported that the Manchester club is trying to negotiate an early release for the twins which would mean they move permanently for the northern hemisphere season. The pair are due to take up a short-term contract at Sale before the start of the 2020 Super Rugby season kicks off. There will be a few people who think it may not be a bad idea for the Sharks to sell them early. One theory on Robert’s poor form at flyhalf this season relates to his time playing for Sale during the 2018/19 off season. Playing for Sale in November, December and January means he had little rest and recovery time between the South African seasons, and it showed with some lacklustre play at times in Super Rugby. Jean-Luc also had a short spell at the club at the end of 2018 where he picked up a long term injury, so it is understandable some observers are a bit wary of the policy of loaning players to overseas clubs.

Drug scandal threatens Jake’s Verblitz

A bunch of South African rugby players and coaches could find themselves without a club if reports of a drug scandal in Japan prove accurate. Two Toyota Verblitz players – New Zealand-born Steven Yates and Ryota Kabashima – have been arrested for cocaine possession. Toyota, the club’s sponsor and owner, has suspended the team’s operations and is considering withdrawing the team from the Japanese league. Japanese rugby is filled with overseas players and Verblitz is coached by former Springbok mentor Jake White and his assistant Gert Smal. South African players on the Verblitz books include Gio Aplon, Lionel Cronje, Reniel Hugo, Carl Wegner, Clinton Swart and Jason Jenkins, with Willie le Roux due to join the club after the World Cup. The suspension of Verblitz would not be unprecedented in Japan. Kanto Gakuin University pulled their rugby team out of the 2007-2008 All-Japan Championship after players were caught growing cannabis and others admitted smoking marijuana. In 2009 Toshiba Brave Lupus withdrew from a tournament after Tongan Christian Loamanu tested positive for marijuana.


Let’s talk equality

As the U.S. players celebrated their Women’s World Cup title a chant rose from the crowd in Lyon: “Equal pay! Equal pay!” It was a fitting tribute after the team’s month-long march to a fourth overall title in a tournament where equality emerged as the main theme with Americans captain Megan Rapinoe front and centre. The Americans are the focal point because of their lawsuit in which they are seeking to be paid as much as their counterparts on the men’s national team. But it wasn’t just about pay equity at this World Cup and there were many less publicised issues surrounding various teams at the tournament. AP’s Anne M Peterson takes a look at some of the problems facing women’s football in Players hope World Cup successes turn into greater support.


Grabbing his big moment!


Cricket semis and tennis quarters

India’s and New Zealand’s battle for a place in the final of the Cricket World Cup looks like being the highlight of today’s sports’ viewing on TV. The two teams meet in the first semi-final today from 11.30am. The fourth stage of the Tour de France starts at noon. Today the riders tackle a flat 215km sprinters stage from Reims to Nancy. There are two feeds from Wimbledon which should allow us to watch all four of the women’s quarter-finals. The top women’s seeds have struggled in the first four rounds, but there is still plenty to look forward to today with the likes of Serena Williams and Simona Halep the big drawcards remaining in the women’s draw.

Today’s live TV highlights

Cricket CSN SS2 11:20-20:00 ICC Cricket World Cup:
Semi-final 1: India v New Zealand
Cycling SS5 SSM 12:00-18:00 Tour De France:
Stage 4: Reims / Nancy 215km
Tennis SS6 12:30-22:00 Wimbledon:
Day 8: Ladies' Quarter-finals
Tennis SS12 14:00-22:00 Wimbledon:
2nd Feed: Day 8

Full list of weekend live TV here.

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8 July 2019 – Weekend wins | FOOTBALL: Bafana bury the Pharaohs | CRICKET: Proteas blossom too late | FOOTBALL: USA win (and lose)


Weekend win 1: Bafana bury the Pharaohs

Thembinkosi Lorch proved the notoriously unreliable social media commentators may have had a point when he coolly slotted home an 85th minute winner against Egypt. The 1-0 shock result put Bafana into the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations. After three matches in which coach Stuart Baxter was vilified by angry fans for not including Lorch in the starting lineup, Baxter finally included him for the Round of 16 match against Egypt. The PSL Player of the Season repaid the coach with a calm finish after a quick counter-attack just when the match looked to be heading to extra time. The fallout from Bafana’s surprise win over the tournament hosts has been dramatic with the Egyptian Football Association President Hani Abou Rida firing the coaching staff before resigning himself. Bafana, who were woeful before the Egyptian match, must face Nigeria in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The Super Eagles came from 2-1 down to beat Cameroon. In Friday’s round of 16 matches Senegal beat Uganda 1-0 and Benin beat Morocco on penalties after the match finished 1-1. Yesterday Madagascar kept their dream alive by beating the Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties after the match ended 2-2 after extra time, and Algeria beat Guinea 3-0. Today Mali v Ivory Coast and Ghana v Tunisia finish the Round of 16 playoffs.

Weekend win 2: Proteas blossom too late

South Africa said goodbye to the Cricket World Cup and a smattering of senior players with a victory that was truly as wonderful as it was frustrating. The 10-run win over Australia on Saturday was proof of what could have been at the World Cup – which just made the win over the old foe bitter sweet. With two injury-ravaged squads taking to the field, and South Africa’s flights home confirmed, the match could have been a dull snorefest. But Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markhram hammered 79 runs in the first 12 overs and set the tone for a thrilling battle between the two rivals. 100 off 94 balls from Faf du Plessies, and 95 from Rassie van der Dussen meant Australia had to chase 325. A masterstroke of opening the bowling with Imran Tahir quickly yielded dividends as he took his final wicket for South Africa in the third over and put pressure on the chase from the start. All the bowlers chipped in and, despite a wonderful 122 from David Warner and a quick 85 from Alex Carey, the South Africans were able to leave the World Cup in England with some pride intact. Australia’s loss means India, who earlier in the day beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets, topped the league standings. They will face New Zealand in the first semi-final tomorrow. Australia take on England in the second semi on Thursday.

Brad’s back, Darryn dumps it again

Brad Binder picked up his second podium in two weekend’s when he rode a storming race from 17th on the grid to claim second in the German Moto2 race yesterday at the Sachsenring. The South African former Moto3 World Champion looks to be back to his best on his KTM which has seen a dramatic improvement in handling after receiving upgraded parts last week. As the riders go into the short mid-season break, Binder will be confident of a strong showing over the second half of the season. Binder crashed in qualifying and so ended up 17th out of 29 riders on the grid. In the race he blitzed through the field to briefly fight for the lead before Alex Marquez pulled away for an easy win. Binder, Marcel Schrotter and Iker Lecuona battled for the podium places until Lecuona crashed on the last lap as he tried to pass Schrotter for third. Earlier, in the tightly-contested Moto3 race, Brad’s brother Darryn fought from 25th on the grid and started the final lap inside the top 15 – within two seconds of the leader. But as Lorenzo Dalla Porta went on to win, the South African was one of four riders in the lead group who crashed on the last lap. In the MotoGP race, Marc Marquez won his tenth German GP and his seventh in a row. The 26-year-old, who rushed from congratulating his brother after winning the Moto2 race to jump on his Honda to start the GP event, beat Maverick Vinales on a Yamaha with Cal Crutchlow third on another Honda.

Manic Monday at Wimbledon

There can be no argument that the story of the first week of the Wimbledon tennis tournament has been the stunning progress of 15-year-old sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff. The American teenager has captured the imagination of the world as she smashed her way through the first three rounds and into the second week of the famous grass court tournament, but things are about to get real for the youngster. Today she is scheduled to take on former world number one and 2018 French Open champion Simon Halep for a place in the quarter-finals. That is just one match in a spectacular day’s action with all the men’s and women’s Round of 16 clashes scheduled. That means, on one day, spectators can watch Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the men’s side as well as the top women, such as Gauff and Halep, Serena Williams, Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova.

Tenth title for the Crusaders

In what could be seen as something of a World Cup preview, the potent Crusaders secured their 10th Super Rugby title with a solid 19-3 win over the Jaguares in Christchurch on Saturday. The final may have added another exclamation mark to New Zealand’s World Cup statement of intent, but the Jaguares’ fairytale run to the Super Rugby final will be a huge boost for Argentina ahead of Japan 2019. The Crusaders fully deserved the title, but despite a rigorous travel schedule, few would argue the Jaguares were the best in the competition from teams outside New Zealand.

Rapinoe guides USA home

Megan Rapinoe has become rallying face of the Women’s World Cup and she ramped up the pressure on the administrators yesterday when she became the top goalscorer and led the USA to their third title in three tournaments. The pink-haired American, who went toe-to-toe with Donald Trump on Twitter as well as being outspoken on women’s right and equality during the tournament, slotted home a penalty midway through the second half of the final against the Netherlands. The goal ensured Rapinoe backed up her big talking with big performances and the veteran ended as top goalscorer in the tournament, and was also awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player. She finished with six goals. That was the same as teammate Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White, but she won the Golden Boot by virtue of spending fewer minutes on the field. In the final Rose Lavelle added a second goal a few minutes after Rapinoe to give the holders a 2-0 victory. It is the USA’s fourth win in eight Women’s World Cup final tournaments. Now we have to wait and see if Rapinoe visits the White House – if Donald Trumps invites the women’s team!

Megan Rapinoe (above) shows off her Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards and the USA team (below) celebrate defending their Women’s World Cup title. Photos: Fifa

US men fail, Brazil take Copa

Brazil beat Peru 3-1 to take the Copa America crown, while the United States men failed to match their Women’s World Cup compatriots and lost 1-0 to Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Gabriel Jesus was both the hero and villain for Brazil as he scored one and set up a second, but was sent off for a second yellow card late in the Copa America final yesterday. On his way off the pitch the Manchester City forward was in tears and kicked a water bottle and then had his revenge on VAR as he pushed over the pitch-side monitor as he left the field of play.


Kyrgios puts everything on the surface

“You can criticise Nick Kyrgios – many enthusiastically do, and often with justification – but he defies every attempt to categorise or caricature him. This is the selfish brat who, according to an Australian charity, spent years secretly inviting children with cancer to have a hit with him on the practice court. The surly prima donna who cracks quite good jokes in press conferences. The wasted talent who has accumulated £5.8 million in career prize money.” Jonathan Liew, the Chief Sports Writer at the Independent (England) takes a look at the most entertaining and infuriating player on the tennis circuit at the moment. He asks How do you solve a problem like Nick Kyrgios? And comes up with a few reasons why we don’t need to.


Two games?

Now we know who Sachin Tendulkar thinks is going to win the Cricket World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand …


Top class action in our living rooms

The sport on TV today may lack some quantity, but few will argue there is quality on our screens. The third stage of the Tour de France is beamed into our living rooms from noon, the same time we can start watching two channels of thrilling tennis from Wimbledon. The world’s most famous tennis tournament has a great schedule today, including young sensation Coco Gauff taking on former world number one Simona Halep and the Big Three from the men’s game – Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – all in action. Football finishes off the action with the final two Round of 16 matches from Egypt: Mali and Ivory Coast kick off at 6pm and Ghana take on Tunisia at 9pm.

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