Please kick pol­i­tics out of our foot­ball

African Independent - - SPORT - THOMAS

De­spite be­ing given a wel­come from hell, Youri Kalenga has set­tled into South Africa and is con­fi­dent of beat­ing Kevin Ler­ena at Em­per­ors Palace on Septem­ber 9.

The DRC-born Kalenga was met at OR Tambo air­port on Fri­day by a panga-wield­ing crowd of Con­golese, who were di­vided into two fac­tions. A fight broke out and one of the mob was hacked across his chest be­fore po­lice moved in and sub­dued the bed­lam with tear­gas.

Fu­ri­ous pro­moter Rod­ney Ber­man con­demned the vi­o­lence and promised to bol­ster se­cu­rity through­out Kalenga’s visit.

The mus­cled cruis­er­weight hit the road early on Satur­day for a train­ing run, ad­mit­ting that the alti­tude was a strug­gle. Hav­ing trained at Big Bear for his fight against De­nis Lebe­dev, he knows that the pres­sure on his chest will ease after a few days.

“It’s ex­actly why we came in early,” ex­plained Ir­ish man­ager Gary Hyde. “Two weeks will al­low Youri all the time he needs.”

Be­ing based at Em­per­ors suits them, es­pe­cially as the casino is in close prox­im­ity to Harold Vol­brecht’s gym, where he will work out. He will have his first spar­ring ses­sion to­day with the fast and re­silient south­paw Tommy Oosthuizen on hand.

“I’ve seen Ler­ena. No prob­lem, I’m ready. Ler­ena is easy for me,” Kalenga said.

The South African’s south­paw stance holds no fears for the France-based fighter as two of his last four op­po­nents were south­paws – Roberto Bolonti and Lebe­dev.

Hav­ing twice fallen short in cham­pi­onship fights, he is adamant he’ll be third time lucky as he chases down the IBO crown.

At 29, am­bi­tion still runs through him and he knows this is a short­cut to a rank­ing across the var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“We know Ler­ena’s style,” said Hyde. “He’s very good tech­ni­cally, but Youri will be too fe­ro­cious for him, too ex­plo­sive. Ler­ena has never fought any­one of his ilk.”

Hyde, who pro­moted for­mer two-time Olympic cham­pion Guillermo Rigondeaux in eight bouts, praised Kalenga as the fighter he most en­joyed work­ing with. “If I called him up and said he was fight­ing King Kong, he’d say, ‘okay, get me good spar­ring’. He’s just a plea­sure to deal with.”

Kalenga’s trainer is Romain Ja­cob, un­til re­cently the Euro­pean su­per-feath­er­weight cham­pion and son of ex-WBC su­per-ban­tamweight cham­pion Thierry Ja­cob. – ANA

Ap­par­ently Dr Ge­orge Mag­wende has been seen con­vers­ing with the leader of the op­po­si­tion United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Hakainde Hichilema at a prison and now the rul­ing party wants him fired!

This seems to be putting un­nec­es­sary po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Zam­bia pres­i­dent An­drew Ka­manga, who does not per­son­ally need foot­ball for his up­keep but is aware that foot­ball needs gov­ern­ment to sur­vive.

How do they ex­pect Ka­manga, a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man in his own right, to fire some­one not due to in­com­pe­tence but be­cause some po­lit­i­cal fig­ure­head wants the med­i­cal man fired for his con­ver­sa­tions with an op­po­si­tion leader!

I com­mend the South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion as well as the Egyp­tian, Tu­nisian, Moroc­can and Al­ge­rian fed­er­a­tions for suc­cess­fully lob­by­ing cor­po­rate spon­sors to part­ner their re­spec­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions, which has en­abled them to in­de­pen­dently run their af­fairs with­out pres­sure of self­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

tour­na­ment.

Colom­bia are sec­ond in the stand­ings on 24 points, while Uruguay and Chile oc­cupy the other two au­to­matic spots on 23 points.

It means that fifth-placed Ar­gentina have little mar­gin for er­ror as they head to Mon­te­v­ideo’s Es­ta­dio Cen­te­nario for the lat­est in­stal­ment of their his­toric ri­valry with the Uruguayans.

Ar­gentina have splut­tered their way through the qual­i­fiers so far, notch­ing only six wins in 14 games, but have

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