War on three fronts

2013-06-02 14:01

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Three South African national teams go to war this week. City Press takes a look at the Springboks’, the Proteas’ and Bafana Bafana’s prospects as they tackle three crucial missions


Springbok captain Jean de Villiers. Picture: Christiaan Kotze

If ever rugby had an air raid squad, the Springboks would be the closest thing.

In a historical quadrangular Test series featuring Italy, Samoa and Scotland, they have what are thought of as “lightweights” to deal with.

Unlike the “low countries” who offered little or no resistance when the Germans stormed Europe in World War 2, the visitors will offer much more resistance than the

Maginot Line ever did to protect the French.

Due to the British and Irish Lions’ quadrennial tour falling in this year, in which the Lions will be touring Australia, the cream of the Isles’ crop has been taken, leaving the Boks with the scraps.

The Samoans, with their Tiger-tank forwards and blitzkrieg backs, will pose the biggest threat.

The plucky Italians are first up and will have the biggest point to prove.

Each of their South African forays have seen countless of their men mowed down by the

Boks, not because of poor planning, but due to the incisive and ruthless brand of rugby Springboks play.

At times, they seemed like men trying to cross a barricaded no man’s land.

They have yet to conquer Europe but at their fortress in Rome, they are a difficult bunch to defeat.

The Scottish, in particular, understand the hardship of laying siege to The Eternal City very well.

The fields of KwaZulu-Natal have witnessed some of the bloodiest battles in South African history.

It will be the same at Kings Park, a graveyard for fallen rugby soldiers.

A shrewd general like Heyneke Meyer will know this is the opportunity to test new weapons before Argentina, New Zealand and Australia invade with their ballistic missiles in the Rugby Championship later this year.

No battle has ever been won with a cannon mounted on a canoe.

– Khanyiso Tshwaku


Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers. Picture: Christiaan Kotze

The Proteas have to bloomearly in the English summer.

All their weapons will have to be in tip-top condition if failure is not to be an option.

The South Africans start their quest to annex the ICC Champions Trophy on Thursday.

It is the only ICC trophy they have laid their hands on in the past, but the ghosts of previous failures loom large.

The best they have done since the 1998 triumph in Bangladesh are three semifinal finishes in 2000, 2002 and 2006.

They have been sandwiched by humiliating first-round exits, in 2004 in England and the 2009 edition, which was held in South Africa.

With two consecutive Test series victories in England in 2008 and last year, they know how to master the Isles’ capricious skies and terrain.

In the ODI form, the returns have not been flattering but there is a change to the itinerary: there is no Test war to wear down AB de Villiers and his charges.

With their last international assignment having been in March against Pakistan, the troops are well-rested and ready for the assault on their Group B opponents India, Pakistan and the West Indies, which feature experienced campaigners such as MS Dhoni, the languid Misbah- ul-Haq and the excitable Dwayne Bravo.

So De Villiers, with his vast experience and talent, will have to lead his team from the front.

At some stage, the Indians have bested the cleverest of South Africa’s war plans.

If the wily foxes are seen off, Bravo and his erratic cannons could be rendered silent even before the battle starts.

On the field of conflict in cricket, the Proteas will have to stake their lives to ease the pain of countless past chokes.

– Khanyiso Tshwaku

Bafana Bafana

Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

Forget this afternoon’s results against Lesotho, the real deal for BafanaBafana is their coming 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against the Central African Republic (CAR) and Ethiopia.

Gordon Igesund’s men need at least four points – with a victory over qualifying group leaders Ethiopia a must – if they are to stand a chance of making the cut for the next round of qualifiers.

After beating the CAR in March, coach Herve Lougoundji promised it would be war in the return leg on Sunday.

But the good thing for Bafana is that they will be facing the CAR at a neutral venue in Yaoundé, Cameroon, because of political instability in that country. This might take the sting out of the CAR’s tail as they will not enjoy home support and have no chance this time for any off-field shenanigans.

Even without their powerful artillery in key players, Bafana should still be able to register a victory over CAR, whom they beat 2-0 at home in March.

But it will not be easy as the CAR would want to get their campaign back on track.

Then, a week later on June 16, Bafana can expect hell on Earth in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital city.

With two points separating log leaders Ethiopia and Bafana, Igesund will need to come back from the trip leading the qualifying group.

A win in Ethiopia will not only raise their World Cup stakes but will also be the perfect way to celebrate Youth Day.

Bafana will be hoping Botswana will do them a favour by beating Ethiopia in Lobatse on Saturday.

The next two weeks are make or break for Bafana as they will determine their World Cup fate.

They take on Lesotho this afternoon to prepare for the daunting away trips to Cameroon and Ethiopia.

– Timothy Molobi

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