Rovers-toti clash to­day

Weekend Witness - - Sport - JONATHAN COOK Club rugby preview

THE Cas­tle Mur­ray Cup qual­i­fy­ing round to­day sees the eight Fidelity Se­cu­rity Moor Cup Pre­mier Di­vi­sion teams trav­el­ling to the home venues of their al­lot­ted op­po­nents, the KZN First Di­vi­sion’s top eight sides.

What should be an in­trigu­ing match-up is the clash be­tween Col­lege Rovers, the KZN Pre­mier Di­vi­sion win­ners, and KZN First Di­vi­sion cham­pi­ons Amanz­im­toti on Toti’s home turf.

Toti edged Piet Retief 26-20 last Fri­day to re­tain the First Di­vi­sion ti­tle and have given no­tice that they will be chal­leng­ing Pre­mier Di­vi­sion wooden spoon­ists Har­lequins in a pro­mo­tion/rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle at the end of the sea­son.

Rovers will cer­tainly give Toti a runaround and the ex­pe­ri­ence will stand the South Coast men in good stead come the crunch clash with Quins.

The other Mur­ray Cup qual­i­fy­ing matches will see Var­sity Col­lege tack­ling home side Vry­heid, Cru­saders fac­ing Hill­crest in Shong­weni, Zu­l­u­land Rhi­nos meet­ing hosts Bal­lito Dol­phins, Dur­ban Col­le­gians go­ing up the North Coast to lock horns with Richards Bay, Mar­itzburg Col­le­gians trekking all the way to Piet Retief’s home base, Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal Impi away to Westville Old Boys, and Quins tak­ing to the road to go head-to-head with New­cas­tle High­landers.

All matches to­day kick off at 2.30 pm. PRE­TO­RIA — Bafana Bafana coach Gor­don Ige­sund says he and his play­ers are hon­oured to be tak­ing part in the in­au­gu­ral Nel­son Man­dela Sport and Cul­ture Day at FNB Sta­dium to­day.

“We as a team feel very proud and we’re very hon­oured that we are able to con­trib­ute,” Ige­sund said ahead of their friendly fix­ture against Burk­ina Faso.

“We’re not only con­tribut­ing by be­ing there and sup­port­ing the event, we’re ac­tu­ally play­ing a part. Man­dela is the great­est states­man of all time, I don’t think there will ever be a states­man like him again.”

The day’s events, in recog­ni­tion of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s con­tri­bu­tion to sport in South Africa, will com­prise three ma­jor matches at the sta­dium.

First up would be a South African “Leg­ends” soc­cer team tak­ing on an Ital­ian “Masters” out­fit, fol­lowed by the Bafana game.

In an un­prece­dented ini­tia­tive, the Spring­boks then host Ar­gentina, in their 2013 Rugby Cham­pi­onship opener, at the same venue.

Bafana will have to pick them­selves up for the game, which comes just three days af­ter their dis­ap­point­ing 2-0 de­feat to Nige­ria in Dur­ban on Wed­nes­day.

Al­though Ige­sund’s men cre­ated a few promis­ing goal-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, the hosts were ul­ti­mately out­classed by a su­pe­rior side.

For Bafana Bafana, the match served as prepa­ra­tion for the cru­cial 2014 World Cup qual­i­fier against Botswana next month.

Burk­ina Faso, mean­while, re- turn to the ground where they fin­ished run­ners-up in this year’s Africa Cup of Na­tions (Afcon) tour­na­ment, nar­rowly go­ing down to Nige­ria in the fi­nal.

Since their stel­lar run in the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece, the Burk­in­abe have con­tin­ued their good form un­der coach Paul Put, and head into to­day’s en­counter on the back of a 2-1 win over Morocco mid­week.

Ige­sund hinted he could give both young and fringe play­ers an op­por­tu­nity to show their worth in the national setup.

“They need to get used to play­ing with the [Siphiwe] Tsha­bal­alas and the [Itume­leng] Khunes of this team,” Ige­sund said.

“When you’re a young player, you do get in­tim­i­dated. I want them to get out there and the only way for them to do that is for them to be with us.

“They have to keep play­ing and con­tin­u­ously per­form­ing. To­mor­row, one or two of them could be on the field and I’m hop­ing they can go out there and ex­press them­selves.”

He wanted the young­sters to grab the op­por­tu­nity with both hands and ex­press their styles, free of fear from the op­po­si­tion, he said.

“I want them to have the ex­u­ber­ance of a young­ster, the ar­ro­gance of a young­ster. I don’t want to see them be­ing scared.

“We as a coun­try need to sup­port th­ese play­ers. Any op­por­tu­nity I get, I’m go­ing to try and get the young play­ers to come into the squad and be around th­ese guys [se­nior play­ers].” — Sapa.

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