Usuthu are yet to win a match in 2020 despite having already played four so far. They have lost three of those games – to Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United and Maritzburg United – with the other game drawn with Cape Town City.
Those results have left them last on the Absa Premiership table, with 17 points from 19 games. On the positive side, there are three other teams on the same number of points and Vukusic says he is not yet panicking.
Usuthu travel to Soweto to face the in-form Orlando Pirates on Saturday. Pirates are on a role at the moment and have won four out of five matches under new coach Josef Zinnbauer and drawn the other one.
They are up to fifth on the table after that run. In contrast, AmaZulu began the new year with a 3-0 hammering at the hands of champions Sundowns, drew 2-2 away at the Citizens in Cape Town and then lost to SuperSport and Maritzburg in the KZN derby. It has been bleak reading so far and Vukusic knows it.
With more than a third of the campaign remaining, Vukusic still believes that time is on their side.
After playing Pirates in Orlando, the fixture list does get a bit kinder, with home matches against fellow strugglers Polokwane City and Golden Arrows to follow.
They are also scheduled to tackle Baroka FC, Bloemfontein Celtic, Black Leopards and Highlands Park in front of their home fans before the season closes and the Slovak coach is adamant that his team know exactly what to do.
Looking ahead to the Pirates game, Vukusic knows it will not be easy for his out-of-sorts team to get maximum points, which they need, from an in-form team like the Bucs.
But he says his players do have what it takes to challenge the Soweto side, adding that they will give everything come kick-off time of 6pm at Orlando Stadium on Saturday. – Report by Thahir Asmal
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Storm Dennis: UK set for month’s worth of rain in 24 hours amid floods
Deluged communities in parts of the UK are facing more heavy rain as they struggle to cope in the wake of Storm Dennis.
A month’s worth of rain in 24 hours is also forecast to hit north Wales and north-west England, falling on ground that is already saturated.
Eight rivers have reached record levels in recent days, the Environment Agency (EA) said.
Nearly 120 flood warnings remain in place across the country.
The EA said there is a “heightened flood risk” across the Midlands, with six severe warnings – meaning there is a danger to life – still in place around the Rivers Lugg, Severn and Wye.
Dave Throup, the EA’s manager for Hereford and Worcestershire, said the Wye flooding was over half a metre bigger than anything for 110 years.
“It’s getting scary folks,” he said on Twitter, adding that “what I’ve seen over the last few days isn’t normal. It isn’t even the new normal. It’s going to get worse. We need to adapt and respond. And fast.”
He said that he was “so sorry for everyone whose life has been turned upside down”.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in the worst-affected areas, which include south Wales, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Yellow warnings for rain remain in place in south and north-west Wales until 14:00 GMT on Thursday, with the Met Office saying they could see 50-60mm (2in) and 70-100mm (4in) of rain respectively.
Another yellow warning for rain covers part of north-west England until 15:00 GMT on Thursday, where up to 100mm could fall.
“In the worst case scenario we could see a month’s worth of rain,” said the Met Office’s Craig Snell.
He said as the ground was saturated due to persistent, heavy rainfall, the rivers were less likely to be able to cope with further rain.
Meanwhile, charity the RSPCA said animal rescue officers had been called out more than 200 times in the past 72 hours – including for “dramatic rescues” of 60 sheep, horses, a swan and chickens.
Actor Michael Sheen, from Neath Port Talbot, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help flooded communities in South Wales.
“The devastation that Storm Dennis has left behind is very real and thousands of people across the UK have lost everything,” said Sheen, 51.
Other yellow weather warnings for rain are in place for:
- Southern Scotland and the Scottish borders until 11:00 GMT on Thursday
- Western and south Scotland from 06:00 GMT until 21:00 GMT on Friday
- Yorkshire from 12:00 GMT on Friday until 6:00 GMT on Saturday
A yellow warning for wind for north-east England, southern Scotland and Yorkshire are in place for 12 hours from 8:00 GMT on Friday.
According to the EA, England had already received 141% of its average February rainfall so far this month.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism from opposition parties for not visiting flood-hit communities.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was showing his “true colours”, adding: “If the Prime Minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election he simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price also questioned why Mr Johnson had not convened Cobra, the government’s emergency response committee.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government was investing £2.6bn in flood defences.
What to do if you’re at risk of flooding
The Environment Agency’s flood warnings mean “immediate action” is required. But what should you do? Here’s what the agency suggests:
- Move family, pets and valuables to a safe place
- Keep a flood kit ready, with copies of home insurance documents, a torch and spare batteries, a portable radio, baby care items, bottles of water and non-perishable foods, as well as warm, waterproof clothing and blankets
- If it’s safe to do so, turn off gas, electricity and water mains supplies – your supplier can advise you how to do this
- Put flood protection equipment in place, such as flood boards or sandbags
- Once you’ve taken steps to protect your family, check whether there are vulnerable neighbours or relatives who need help
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
Dana Rohrabacher denies offering Assange a pardon from Trump
A former Republican congressman has denied he offered a pardon to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of US President Donald Trump.
Assange’s lawyer said Dana Rohrabacher claimed to be acting “on instructions” from Mr Trump in offering clemency.
In return, the president was said to have wanted Assange to say Russia was not involved in leaking emails during the 2016 US election.
But Mr Rohrabacher, a former California representative, rejected the claims.
“At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange,” he said in a statement.
Mr Rohrabacher said he was acting on his own “fact-finding mission”.
He said he told the Wikileaks founder that if he could provide evidence of who passed on the DNC emails, he would then call on the president to pardon him.
The White House called the allegation “a complete fabrication and a total lie”.
What’s the row about?
Leaked emails published by Wikileaks ahead of the 2016 vote contained embarrassing details about the Democratic Party, and were seen to have damaged its presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Assange has previously denied receiving the material from the Kremlin, although Russian intelligence officials have been indicted in the US for the leak.
Assange is facing extradition to the US on 18 charges over earlier leaks of diplomatic cables.
He faces up to 175 years in prison if found guilty.
Where does the allegation come from?
The claim was made at a court hearing in London before a formal extradition request for Assange begins. He is wanted in the US on espionage charges.
Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told Westminster Magistrates Court there was evidence that former congressman Rohrabacher made the pardon offer.
Mr Rohrabacher, known for his outspoken support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, visited the Ecuadorian embassy in August 2017, where Assange was staying, he said.
At the time, Russia was widely suspected of stealing embarrassing Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, which were published by Wikileaks – although Assange has denied Russian involvement.
Mr Fitzgerald said a statement from Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson showed “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled the evidence admissible in court.
What has the response been?
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “The President barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject.
“It is a complete fabrication and a total lie.”
Mr Trump has previously praised him as “a great congressman” who “works hard and is respected by all”.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017 that he had contacted the White House in an attempt to secure a pardon for Mr Assange.
The paper said that, under Mr Rohrabacher’s terms, Mr Assange was required to provide “proof” that Russia was not the source of hacked emails published by Wikileaks during the 2016 US election.
In 2018, the US Department of Justice charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking emails from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, as part of a plot to influence the outcome of the election.
The 18 charges faced by Mr Assange include conspiring to commit computer intrusion.
None relate to the DNC hack but instead concern WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and files about US campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaked by former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Assange’s extradition hearing is due to begin at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, starting with a week of legal argument.
It is then due to be adjourned before resuming on May 18 with three weeks of evidence.
Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September, after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching bail conditions.
He went into the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual offences, which he always denied and which were later dropped.
Hundreds Released From Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan
Shortly before 11 a.m., they began making their way off the ship through an improvised tunnel shrouded in blue tarp, through an array of orange pylons and out into a parking lot under a clear sky.
Taxis may have been in short supply, but the news media was not.
One of the earliest to disembark, a woman wearing a conical rice hat and a heavy-duty face mask with a strap hanging loose, was mobbed by journalists as she walked out of a guarded gate, pulling a red suitcase. She eventually wandered off on foot.
One passenger, Masako Ishida, 61, remained on board on Wednesday as she waited to receive her test results, and said she was frustrated by the suggestion that anyone who tested negative should have to remain in quarantine any longer.
“I heard that some people think us passengers should be put another two weeks in quarantine,” she said. “We were quarantined, and if we test negative, we will be given a certification that proves we’re negative. We’re one of the safest people right now.”
Another passenger seemed less certain.
“I’m a bit concerned if I’m OK to get off the ship, but it was getting very difficult physically, a 77-year-old man who got off with his wife told the Kyodo News agency. “For now, we just want to celebrate.”
Dr. Iwata, the infectious disease expert, sounded far more concerned.
He said he had visited the ship on Tuesday with the goal of advising public health officials on how to prevent the further spread of infection. He expressed astonishment at what he had seen, and took to YouTube to share his findings.
Health ministry officials, crew members and psychiatrists mingled and ate together, Dr. Iwata said, with some in full protective gear and others not — a violation of ordinary procedures.
Tottenham 0-1 RB Leipzig: Timo Werner penalty gives Germans edge in last-16 tie
Tottenham face an arduous task to keep their Champions League hopes alive after defeat at home by the highly impressive RB Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Spurs, now stripped of long-term injury victim Son Heung-min with a broken arm as well as Harry Kane, were beaten more convincingly than the scoreline suggests as the side lying second in the Bundesliga demonstrated their growing stature.
And it was only a masterclass from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris that gives Spurs hope for the second leg in Germany, keeping Leipzig at bay with a string of outstanding saves before he was beaten by Timo Werner’s 58th-minute penalty.
Lloris turned Angelino’s shot on to the post and saved from Werner inside the first minute, later denying the striker once more from point-blank range.
He was powerless to stop Werner’s drilled spot-kick after Ben Davies fouled Konrad Laimer but kept Spurs in it with a crucial block from Patrik Schick.
Spurs finally forged chances of their own after the break, with Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi turning Giovani Lo Celso’s free-kick on to the post and Lucas Moura heading over from close range – but it is advantage to Julian Nagelsmann’s team.
Spurs suffer from lack of threat
The big question for Spurs and manager Jose Mourinho was how they would lay a glove on RB Leipzig after the blow of losing Son to a broken arm exacerbated the long-term absence of main marksman Kane.
And so it proved as, despite a much-improved second half, they could not apply consistent pressure to Leipzig, who will go into the second leg as firm favourites to reach the quarter-finals.
Spurs should not be written off after the heroics of last season but without Kane and Son it would be an outstanding feat if they were to overturn this deficit.
Mourinho at least had shining lights in goalkeeper Lloris and midfield man Lo Celso, the France keeper preventing Leipzig from reducing the second leg to little more than a formality.
It was an ominous sign that he was in frantic action inside the first minute and he can take credit for Leipzig not being out of sight already.
Lo Celso, meanwhile, showed his growing maturity as he drove Spurs forward, almost equalising with a fine 25-yard free-kick that was turned on to the post by the stretching Gulacsi.
It was, however, a night of frustration for Spurs – summed up by the sight of a stony-faced Dele Alli hurling his boot to the floor in the dugout after he was substituted.
Spurs must call on the Champions League spirit of last season to turn this last-16 tie around.
Werner a class act
Werner was centre stage in the build-up to this match, with the 23-year-old striker being heavily linked with a summer move to Liverpool as one of the most coveted players in Europe.
And he demonstrated exactly why as the spearhead of this dangerous, talented RB Leipzig side who are currently threatening the established order in the Bundesliga.
Werner, operating on the flanks, is blessed with pace, control, awareness and is a natural finisher with 20 goals in the German top flight this season.
He was a constant threat and will have been disappointed not to put Leipzig in an even more commanding position as he had two first-half efforts saved by Lloris, the second of which he should have finished.
Werner never let his head drop, berating team-mates when the service was not swift enough, and showing vision when he wrong-footed the Spurs defence by stepping over Angelino’s cross from which Schick forced another fine save from Lloris.
He will provide Leipzig’s big threat in the second leg on 10 March – and will surely be at the centre of serious transfer interest from Europe’s elite clubs this summer.
Man of the match – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Tottenham face London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday in the race for a top-four finish (12:30 GMT).
Man City 2-0 West Ham United: De Bruyne scores as City beat Hammers in first game since Uefa ban
Kevin de Bruyne made one goal and scored another as Manchester City easily saw off West Ham in their first game since being banned from European competition for two years by Uefa.
Friday’s punishment – which City say they will appeal against at the Court of Arbitration for Sport – has cast a shadow over the club’s future but brought a defiant reaction from their fans inside the ground.
There were frequent anti-Uefa chants in the first half, with the loudest coming just after Rodri had met Kevin de Bruyne’s corner at the near post to break the deadlock with a flicked header that Aymeric Laporte may have helped over the line.
City’s supporters had brought banners too, with some reading ‘Uefa cartel’ and ‘Uefa mafia’, and there were also plenty of songs in support of manager Pep Guardiola and the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour.
On the pitch, the City players certainly did not seem to be lacking any focus and only some poor finishing, notably by Gabriel Jesus, stopped this from being a much more comfortable Premier League victory.
West Ham offered little in response, managing only five touches in the opposition area, and failing to register a single shot at goal until Michail Antonio blasted over with 15 minutes left.
The Hammers remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of safety after a run of six league games without a win and with a trip to Anfield looming on Monday as their next test.
At the other end of the table, Guardiola’s side are now four points clear of third-placed Leicester but even this win leaves them a distant second to leaders Liverpool, who are 22 points clear with 12 games remaining,
Off the pitch, City are clearly up for the fight but they will have to be the same on it, with three competitions still up for grabs even though the defence of their Premier League title is all but over.
‘Business as usual for City’
The message from the club since Friday’s bombshell has been that it is ‘business as usual’ while they fight their ban, a mantra that chief executive Ferran Soriano repeated when he broke his silence about the allegations earlier on Wednesday.
City’s desire for internal stability to calm the external hysteria surrounding Uefa’s decision and the possible ramifications of any additional punishment by the Premier League, was helped by Pep Guardiola’s suggestion over the weekend, relayed to the media via friends, that he will stay.
But it would be understandable if Uefa’s sanction, plus the widespread criticism of the club that has followed and the continued speculation of what it all means for the future of Guardiola and his squad, had affected the focus and feelings of City’s players.
If it has distracted them, then they did not show it here. Aided by the industrious David Silva and the steady presence of Rodri, De Bruyne pulled the strings in midfield, and also made his 16th league assist and scored his eighth league goal of what has been a stellar individual season.
City are still in the Champions League this season, of course, and this was a welcome chance to find some rhythm before they face Real Madrid at the Bernabeu next Wednesday.
From that perspective, it was a big boost for Guardiola that Laporte, his best defender, came through his 65 minutes on the pitch unscathed, as any plan to shut Real out will surely rely heavily on him.
More to follow.
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