‘Af­con shows gap is get­ting smaller’

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

CHRISTCHURCH — The Proteas ticked one of the most im­por­tant out­stand­ing boxes on their World Cup prepa­ra­tion list af­ter Hashim Amla and Quin­ton de Kock (pic­tured) shared an open­ing stand of 116 in only 15 overs to set up a five-wicket victory in their warm-up match against Sri Lanka here at the Ha­gley Oval on Mon­day.

In a match that was badly dis­rupted by the el­e­ments, the Proteas chased down their tar­get of 188 in 25 overs with three balls to spare. The orig­i­nal tar­get had been 224 in 30 overs and the Proteas reached 116/0 in 15 overs when the rain in­ter­vened again. De Kock had hit 19 off that fi­nal over in­clud­ing two sixes and a four.

The rain in­ter­vened again and they were left with a re­vised tar­get of 72 from the re­main­ing 60 de­liv­er­ies.

Cru­cially they lost both Amla and De Kock in the first over af­ter the re­sump­tion in the space of six balls and the same thing hap­pened shortly af­ter­wards when both JP Du­miny and David Miller were also dis­missed in the space of six balls be­fore first Faf du Plessis and then Rilee Ros­souw and Ver­non Phi­lan­der stead­ied the ship to com­plete the job in con­vinc­ing style.

Amla made 46 off 40 balls (4 fours and a six) and De Kock, in only his sec­ond innings since in­jury, 66 off 55 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes. His re­turn to form would have been a pri­or­ity for the Proteas strate­gists.

AB de Vil­liers was rested from the game be­cause of a stiff hip which made the suc­cess­ful chase even more pleas­ing.

The other sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of the win was the bat­ting of Phi­lan­der at No 7.

— Sport24 JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Uganda Cranes coach Mi­cho Sre­do­je­vic reck­ons that the gap be­tween the so-called big teams and small teams is be­com­ing smaller as wit­nessed at the just-con­cluded Africa Cup of Na­tions. Ivory Coast beat Ghana 9-8 in a penalty shootout as the Ele­phants lifted only their sec­ond Af­con ti­tle in his­tory. “The tour­na­ment showed that the mar­gin be­tween the haves and have not(s) has thinned,” said Mi­cho, adding, “Most of the matches in Equa­to­rial Guinea were close. “You had a draw of lots to de­cide one of the groups (be­tween Mali and Guinea), which shows how close the matches were.

“The many draws all over the com­pe­ti­tion prove that the tra­di­tional gi­ants are no longer in­tim­i­dat­ing the con­ti­nent’s im­prov­ing sides and those are many.”

Yet Mi­cho can’t af­ford to be very cocky de­spite Uganda beat­ing Ghana and Guinea in the qual­i­fiers. “We beat the los­ing fi­nal­ist at Namboole and held them in Ku­masi,” said the Ser­bian, adding, “That shows that we are more than ca­pa­ble of hold­ing our own against any one. “But then again it was Ghana who came within a whisker of the ti­tle and not us, who haven’t qual­i­fied since 1978.

“That shows that we have to im­prove on tech­ni­cal, man­age­rial and fi­nan­cial as­pects of the game to qual­ify. “It is those small de­tails hold­ing us back, which we must ad­dress.” — Su­pers­port

IVORY Coast Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara (cen­tre left) waves as he holds the African Na­tions Cup tro­phy with cap­tain Yaya Toure in Abid­jan on Mon­day. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of sup­port­ers at the air­port and on the streets of Ivory Coast’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Abid­jan wel­comed home the na­tional foot­ball team af­ter its victory at the African Na­tions Cup in Equa­to­rial Guinea.

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