Om­dur­man leads to more Su­danese suc­cess

African Independent - - SPORT -

This fol­lowed reports that the cen­tral African coun­try had fallen be­hind sched­ule with prepa­ra­tions.

“We will re­place Cameroon as the hosts of the 2019 Cup of Na­tions,” he told a Moroc­can news­pa­per. “It is the re­venge of his­tory.

“Morocco have sta­di­ums in Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Mar­rakech, Ra­bat and Tang­iers. Next year, we will also have Te­touan.

“The coun­try will not have to in­vest one dirham to stage the Cup of Na­tions,” added Lek­jaa, since cho­sen as one of three Caf vi­cepres­i­dents. ZURICH: Usain Bolt’s ri­vals will for once be glad to see the back of a man who has dom­i­nated global sprint­ing for the last decade, but ath­let­ics will be far less en­thu­si­as­tic about bid­ding a fi­nal farewell to the charis­matic Ja­maican.

Bolt has com­pleted the sprint dou­ble at the last three Olympics and had he not been disqualified ahead of the 100m fi­nal at Daegu in 2011, the 30-year-old could have matched that feat at the last four world cham­pi­onships.

In an era blighted by dop­ing scan­dals, the Ja­maican has al­most sin­gle-hand­edly kept the sport afloat, but his com­mand­ing reign will come to an end when he re­tires after this month’s world cham­pi­onships, fi­nally al­low­ing other sprint­ers a look-in.

In the sim­ple mat­ter of who will take his place at the top of the 100m podium ei­ther at or after Lon­don, Canada’s Olympic medal­list An­dre de Grasse ap­pears to be just ahead of the pack as the lead­ing can­di­date.

“(De Grasse) shows up when it counts. That’s the mark of a veteran, even though he has been in the sport not too long,” said Justin Gatlin, Olympic gold medal­list in 2004 and run­ner-up to Bolt in Rio last year.

South Africa also has a new gen­er­a­tion of stars, led by Akani Sim­bine and Thando Roto, although with their na­tional cham­pi­onships tak­ing place in March, peak­ing twice in one sea­son could hin­der their hopes of vic­tory in Lon­don.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to be run­ning fast in March and hav­ing to peak for your na­tion­als and still find a way to be ready at the mid­dle of Au­gust,” said for­mer 200m world cham­pion Ato Boldon.

The door could also open for the US, a tra­di­tional sprint pow­er­house but largely for­got­ten as a threat for a decade since Gatlin and Tyson Gay tested pos­i­tive for il­le­gal drugs.

Chris­tian Cole­man put him­self on the map when he ran 9.82 sec­onds, the fastest time this year, at the US col­le­giate cham­pi­onships, while Trayvon Bromell won bronze at the world cham­pi­onships two years ago aged just 20.

But whether any ath­lete can come close to match­ing Bolt’s dom­i­nance and charisma is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

“You would have to have some­one who is dom­i­nat­ing; no one is do­ing that,” said for­mer Olympic 200 and 400m cham­pion Michael John­son.

“You would have to have some­one who has some­thing spe­cial he has in terms of per­son­al­ity,” the Amer­i­can said. - Reuters His ref­er­ence to “re­venge” was aimed at for­mer Caf boss Hay­a­tou, a Cameroo­nian who suf­fered a shock pres­i­den­tial elec­tion loss to Mala­gasy Ah­mad Ah­mad last March.

Hay­a­tou stripped Morocco of the 2015 Af­con when they pleaded for the tour­na­ment to be de­layed over fears con­cern­ing the Ebola virus. Morocco be­lieved vis­it­ing play­ers and sup­port­ers could bring the dis­ease into the king­dom with po­ten­tially dis­as­trous re­sults for the key tourism in­dus­try.

Lek­jaa clearly has not for­got­ten is dom­i­nat­ing dis­cus­sions in Botswana, with scribe Ba­p­ati Mmot­lanyane hint­ing that the “dou­ble” could be de­mand­ing for his com­pa­triot.

“How good your body is in terms of shape and fit­ness and that is ul­ti­mately a re­flec­tion of the train­ing pro­gramme you have been fol­low­ing,” said the sports jour­nal­ist from Gaborone.

“De­cid­ing on the 11th hour with­out con­sid­er­ing the amount of work you have been putting in could be like a throw of the dice.

“Just last sum­mer, LaShawn Mer­ritt and Allyson Felix tried it, and they both couldn’t seal off the dou­ble feats. How­ever, one of the great­est ever sprint­ers, Michael John­son nailed a dou­ble feat at the 1996 Olympics, which is another rea­son to be­lieve it is not a pie in the sky for the new gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes.

“The more the com­pe­ti­tion becomes tight, the more such a de­ci­sion could be less likely an op­tion. And now you have Van Niek­erk and Mak­wala whom we know their fo­cus is on the 400, but their re­cent good times in the 200m have led to de­bate if it’s pos­si­ble for or for­given Hay­a­tou, who moved the tour­na­ment to 2012 co-hosts Equa­to­rial Guinea at the last minute.

Caf ex­ec­u­tives headed by Ah­mad re­fused to dump Cameroon over re­ported de­lays to build­ing pro­grammes in Bafous­sam, Douala, Garoua, Limbe and Yaounde. A Caf del­e­ga­tion will visit Cameroon next month to as­sess prepa­ra­tions.

An Ital­ian con­struc­tion com­pany in charge of var­i­ous Af­con projects said work would be com­pleted sev­eral months be­fore the then Jan­uary kick-off.

That dead­line has since been moved back with the fi­nals switched from Jan­uary/Fe­bru­ary to June/July.

How­ever, while Cameroon now have more time, they must cater for 24 teams in­stead of 16.

Cameroon foot­ball boss Tombi Roko Sidiki said he had “spo­ken with the Cameroon hi­er­ar­chy and the de­ci­sion was that the coun­try is ready to host the 2019 Cup of Na­tions”.

He lashed out at Morocco, with­out nam­ing them, for try­ing to take the tour­na­ment away from them. “There are some coun­tries who would like to host this tour­na­ment, but they should keep quiet and think about other edi­tions, not 2019, be­cause Cameroon will be ready,” he said.

Sidiki said his coun­try, who hosted the 1972 Af­con when it was an eight-team tour­na­ment, backed the ex­pan­sion to 24 teams.

“Cameroon have been reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pants in the Cup of Na­tions, but you can­not think only of your own coun­try when dis­cussing change,” he said.

Morocco has also hosted the Cup of Na­tions once, in 1988, when they came fourth in a tour­na­ment won by Cameroon.

HIGH FLY­ERS: Wayde van Niek­erk and Akani Sim­bine ac­knowl­edge the crowd after the 100m fi­nal dur­ing the SA Cham­pi­onships in Potchef­stroom in April. Pic­ture: Back­pagePix

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