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Football futures hang by a hair | News | Sport

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Right now, Stuart Baxter is sitting down and staring at the ceiling. He is apprehensive.
The Sword of Damocles is a thin thread away from impaling the Bafana Bafana coach.

Damocles sat on the Syracuse throne on condition that a sword, held only by a horse’s hair, perpetually hung above him.
Similarly, Baxter knew when he took the job that his critics would be camped outside his door, ready to barge in should he show any sign of weakness.

He’s admitted as much before, remarking how his head will be demanded should Bafana Bafana lose to Libya this weekend and fail to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.

He’s not wrong.

Defeat would be disastrous for all involved — except Libya, of course. It would almost certainly spell the end of Baxter’s second spell at the helm of South African football. The sword would probably fall before the rest of us haul our axes from the shed.

It would set the team back some years. Whatever progress has been made couldn’t survive this failure. Not when the job was halfway done, after Bafana beat Nigeria in Uyo, in the opening game of Group E.

“What we have to remember is we’re undefeated in this group, and if it remains that way then we qualify,” the experienced Dean Furman said this week. “So we have to take that as a huge positive. We’ve taken on one of the best teams in Africa and beat them away.

“As players, these are the games you want to play. Big games, where you’re representing your country, and there’s a huge prize at the end of it. For all of us who are here, it’s great to be here and we’re all pushing. We’re so focused on being at the Afcon this time around.”

The SuperSport United midfielder was part of the local contingent that has had to endure a rigorous travel schedule ahead of the match. Bafana arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday. There they met up with the European-based players before heading to Tunisia. The team trained at El Menzah Stadium for most of the week before heading out to Sfax.

It’s the selection of some of those international stars that has sent more murderous glances Baxter’s way. Keagan Dolly and Bongani Zungu were called up, despite playing very little football in recent months. The former broke his leg six months ago and was last seen playing for Montpellier’s reserve side. Zungu’s last game in the French league, for Amiens, was at the beginning of September. (It’s amusing to think how the clubs must have fumed when they found out their unfit players had been called up.)

Baxter seems to be gambling that they’ll bring an impetus to the team that was painfully absent in the 0-0 draws to Libya and the Seychelles. Bafana’s tendency to get complacent is well documented, and the fact that a draw this weekend is good enough might work against them. Both Dolly and Zungu started in the Nigeria win, incidentally.

But for all the naysayers, Baxter would look mighty smug should he be proved right. If he fails, his decision to omit the in-form Kermit Erasmus will make him look like a hypocrite.

The players say they’re just there to get the job done.

“It’s just another day, another match,” Zungu said. “We just have to go out there and play our hearts out and win the game for ourselves, our nation.There’s no pressure. The coach spoke to us and motivated us to not feel too much pressure, to just go to the match and just play.”

Part II: Postpone a nightmare

With Bafana’s recent proclivity for failure, it’s easy to forget just what the game means for the other side.

Libya has not known peace for a long time. The 2011 civil war that led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi has left the country in shreds, and it’s now controlled piece meal by various militant groups.

The domestic league has routinely been interrupted and its clubs have to play their continental home games in neutral locations. Similarly, the national team, the Mediterranean Knights, have had to host their qualifiers in Tunisia, Egypt and Mali.

This is a national team without a nation.

Despite this, Libya has achieved some notable landmarks over the better part of the past
decade. In 2012, the team qualified for only their third Afcon. Two years later they achieved their maiden international title by winning the 2014 African Nations Championship. They beat powerhouse Ghana, courtesy of an enthralling penalty shoot- out in the final.

Qualifying on Sunday might just feel like their biggest achievement. The significance of progressing from a group that includes Nigeria and South Africa after being deprived of home football for over five years cannot be overstated.

Lybia have certainly proven their worth on the pitch. Bafana weren’t expecting it when they played host in September. Baxter was left tactically flat-footed when the Knights came out swinging; he wasn’t able to adapt to their surprise approach and was probably grateful for the final whistle confirmingthe draw.

“I expect Libya to be fired up, I expect them to play very passionate football,” Baxter said this
week. “But they can’t just attack us crazily in case we sneak one.

“We’ve studied them in every game and I think it’s unwise of me to start picking out players. Their midfield is very influential in the way that they play. I think their big striker is a pivotal point for them;they look for him from the flanks. I think the Libyan team’s strength is that they’re a team. They’re well organised and they all work for each other. That’s what we’ll have to deal with.”

Although he refuses to point out danger men to the media, the Scot will be well aware that most of the better-known international players are available for Libya.

Ahmad Benali is one of those attacking midfielders he alluded to. Raised in Manchester City’s youth setup, he plies his trade for Italian side Crotone. A versatile player, he has already scored against the Seychelles and Nigeria in this qualifying campaign. Ali Al Musrati is another regular in the centre of the pitch.Working for Vitória de Guimarães, Portugal, he has been a dependable option since 2014. With Muaid Ellafi and Hamdou Elhouni attacking down the flanks, there is no shortage of pace or flair going forward.

There’s no chance that Baxter will underestimate this team. He knows that doing so could well cost him his job,which is what makes this game so fascinating —the stakes are huge. A loss would shake the foundations of South African football,yet victory would bring joy to a nation that has had little cause to celebrate in recent times. Funny how 90 minutes of football on a Sunday evening can matter so much.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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