‘Afcon shows gap is getting smaller’
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.