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Andy Murray in doubt for Australian Open after positive Covid-19 test

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Andy Murray’s participation in the Australian Open is in doubt after it was announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

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The former world No 1 was due to travel to Australia on one of a series of charter flights laid on by tournament organisers, but he is still isolating at home in London.

ANDY MURRAY IS IN GOOD HEALTH

Britain’s Press Association news agency said Andy Murray, apparently in good health, is hoping to be able to arrive in Australia at a later date.

The 33-year-old is a five-time runner-up in Melbourne.

More than 1 200 players and support staff are arriving in Australia from Thursday for 14 days’ quarantine ahead of the delayed tournament, which is due to start on February 8.

Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, has spent months trying to deal with the logistical nightmares of hosting the Grand Slam during a pandemic.

Tennis Australia said players were only allowed into Australia with proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure, or with approval as a recovered case at the discretion of the Australian government.

The qualifying tournament for the Grand Slam event took place in Qatar.

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International

Misbah clears up Pakistan coaching confusion claims

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Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq has dismissed the suggestion that his team might suffer from having too many coaches around as they prepare to face South Africa in a two-match Test series.

Misbah invited National High Performance coaches, Mohammad Yousuf and Saqlain Mushtaq, into the Pakistan training camp in Karachi in the last week.

Misbah says Pakistan don’t have too many cooks

The Pakistan coach says that he wanted Saqlain to lend a helping hand to the spinners who are likely to hold the key during the series against the Proteas.

“The thought behind Saqlain’s inclusion was that spinners will play a big role in matches here, so we wanted him to come and work with the new domestic spinners for a bit,” said Misbah.

Misbah said that Yousuf was not a threat to batting coach Younis Khan. The coach said he would take on board inputs from Yousuf but the direction players were taken in would be determined by Younis.

“Yousuf has been roped in to improve our coordination. Younis Khan still leads the batsmen here, and we as coaches communicate with each other so that we know about each player’s details – we’re accumulating his data, a lot of videos, how he’s playing,” Misbah added.

“People are probably under the impression that there’ll be confusion for batsmen because three coaches will be giving inputs but it’s nothing like that. Younis Khan will communicate with the players, and the three of us are only communicating among ourselves. That’s very clear,” Misbah said.

“The other motive behind bringing those guys is that they are going to prepare the team for T20s. Here we’ll be busy with the Test. We’re communicating among ourselves about how to prepare them for T20s,” he concluded.

Experienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah should take charge of the spin-bowling department, and will be supported by either Nauman Ali or Sajid Khan.

Pakistan have brought in a number of new faces for the series including top-order batsman Imran Butt who looks set to debut against the Proteas on Tuesday.

The first Test will get underway on Tuesday 26 January at 07:00 (SAST). The series will form part of the World Test Championship. The second Test is in Rawalpindi from 4 February. The Test series will be followed by three Twenty20 internationals at Lahore ‘s Gadaffi Stadium on 11, 13 and 14 February.

The coronavirus pandemic means all the matches on South Africa’s tour of Pakistan will be played without fans in attendance.

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Premier Soccer League

Gavin Hunt suggests Itumeleng Khune needs to work harder to win back spot

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Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has commented – without commenting – on the continued absence of club captain and former first-choice goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune.

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Khune has not been part of Amakosi’s match-day squad for the side’s last six games in all competitions.

Khune, who conceded 10 goals in five DStv Premiership matches this season, last played in Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 defeat to SuperSport United on 15 December 2020.

Since then, Daniel Akpeyi has cemented his position as Hunt’s first-choice ‘keeper while Bruce Bvuma has served as back-up as Amakhosi have enjoyed a better run of results in recent times.

Kaizer Chiefs entered their most recent match against Stellenbosch FC on Saturday on the back of three wins on the trot, but were held to a goalless draw at the Danie Craven Stadium.

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When asked after their match on against Stellenbosch FC what the latest news was on Khune, Hunt suggested he would need to work harder to win his place back in goal.

“I thought Daniel was excellent today, I thought he was fantastic and he swept well. So, there’s a lot of competition and people need to work hard to get back in the team,” said Gavin Hunt.

Meanwhile, a second Chiefs veteran, Willard Katsande, also hasn’t been seen since his last appearance against Primeiro de Agosto in the CAF Champions League in December.

Gavin Hunt has since handed the captain’s armband to Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Bernard Parker, with Samir Nurkovic most recently leading the side this weekend.

The draw against Stellenbosch FC saw Kaizer Chiefs move up to seventh place in the standings.

They will next be in action against Baroka FC on Tuesday, 26 January.

READ | KAIZER CHIEFS’ WIN-STREAK ENDS AT STELLENBOSCH FC

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Kaizer Chiefs: Bucs legend says Hunt should bench Manyama

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Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Benedict Vilakazi believes that Gavin Hunt needs to give misfiring Kaizer Chiefs winger Lebogang Manyama a wake up call.

Manyama has worn the captain’s armband under Hunt but Vilikazi believes that other players should be given a chance to shine. The 30-year-old has two goals and two assists to his name in 11 DStv Premiership matches for Kaizer Chiefs.

Have Kaizer Chiefs put too much faith in Manyama?

Kaizer Chiefs played to a disappointing goalless draw with Stellenbosch FC on Saturday and despite being four games unbeaten are ten points off the pace set by PSL leaders Sundowns.

Vilikazi believes that Manyama lacks motivation, after he failed to back up a goal and an assist in the victory over TTM in midweek with a performance on Saturday.

“Against TTM I think he had that mentality where he says ‘I am a big name-player and also the team is having problems so obvious I have an advantage. Whatever I do, I will have an advantage because there are problems in the team.’ Psychologically, TTM players were not there 100 percent,” Vilakazi told iDiski TV.

“But look today, they played against a team whose players are ready, players that are focused. So that is why it was so difficult for him to shine. So it tells you about his quality that if he is not pulling his socks up he will have to sit on the grandstands and give the youngsters a chance.”

Vilikazi lays into Kaizer Chiefs

Vilikazi stopped short of suggesting Hunt was favouring Manyama but could not believe that Dumisani Zuma and Siphelele Ntshangase had not played more.

“I am also surprised why people like Manyama keep on getting playing chances whereas [Dumisani Zuma] plays two just games and then he is left out of the team,” Vilakazi said.

“[Siphelele] Ntshangase played in the Caf Champions League qualifiers for the group stage but now we do not see him. So let’s be open for everyone. If some players have been given a chance even if they don’t perform, why not also give a chance to others?”

Kaizer Chiefs face Orlando Pirates in the first Soweto Derby of the league season next weekend after a midweek encounter with Baroka FC.

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