MAIL & GUARDIAN: Sport

Smith not haunted by past failures

Graeme Smith will lead from the front in his role as South Africa's World Cup captain and aggressive opening batsman and he insists his team will not be haunted by past failures. South Africa will be among the favourites after powerful performances in the past two seasons. It's a situation they have been in before, only to stumble at crucial moments.

Habana emerges as Bulls’ saviour

There may have been no sounding of the controversial Bok van Blerk song De la Rey, but Springbok and Bulls winger Bryan Habana was the one man who saved his team from the certain jaws of defeat. At the last moment, Habana salvaged the match by scoring in the left-hand corner to give the Bulls a 30-27 victory.

Late Ronaldo winner lifts United clear of Chelsea

Manchester United moved nine points clear of Chelsea at the top of the English Premier League on Saturday after Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the 88th minute to earn a 2-1 win at Fulham. Also on Saturday, Robbie Fowler scored two penalties in Liverpool's 4-0 win over Sheffield United, and Charlton beat fellow strugglers West Ham 4-0.

Chiefs crash out of Absa Cup

Kaizer Chiefs made a first-round exit from this year's Absa Cup after going down 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless extra-time game against Lamontville Golden Arrows. Arrows were the more composed team for most of the 120 minutes of play, but were almost robbed of their triumph through a questionable refereeing decision.

Bafana vs Swaziland ‘just a training game’

Four years ago, Bafana suffered the ignominy of losing a friendly international against Lesotho before a vibrant, capacity crowd at the Lesotho National Stadium -- with Safa proclaiming after the match that it was no more than a training runaround. This time, it appears Safa is not waiting for the result before announcing a decision.

Rugby and history collide at Croke Park

In rugby terms, the Six Nations match that takes place in Dublin on Saturday is all about the short-term future: the next four weeks that will decide this season's tournament. But when it comes to Ireland and England clashes, it has always been hard to ignore the past, and that will be the case when the strains of God Save the Queen echo around Croke Park.

Hurting Henin plays on

Justine Henin-Hardenne, the year-end world number one, lost her second surname and her first position following her recent separation from Pierre-Yves Hardenne. This week, Henin, the world number two, faced up publicly to the pain in her life, revealing that the shock has been so great that she has no aim to regain the top spot from Maria Sharapova just yet.

Roman’s roubles to stay at Chelsea

Chelsea continue to make operating losses despite a pledge to have broken even by the end of the 2004/05 season. The revelation, declared in company accounts that announced an £80-million year's loss to the City this week, puts in significant doubt the Chelsea board's long-held target of becoming self-sustaining before 2009/10.

Finally, equal pay at Wimbledon

After years of holding out against equal prize money, Wimbledon bowed to public pressure on Thursday and agreed to pay women players as much as the men at the world's most prestigious tennis tournament. The All England Club announced at a news conference that it had decided to fall into line with other Grand Slam events and offer equal pay at this year's tournament.

Big test for Cheetahs in Super 14

South African teams occupy the top two rungs on the Super 14 rugby ladder but their unaccustomed prominence will be challenged in the competition's fourth round starting on Friday. The Durban-based Sharks are the only unbeaten team after three rounds and will sit out the fourth round, along with the New South Wales Waratahs.

Terry injury mars Chelsea victory

Chelsea emerged from a Champions League battle with FC Porto as favourites to reach the quarterfinals after a pulsating 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Estadio do Dragao. But the English champions' night was marred by the sight of their captain and defensive lynchpin John Terry being stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury.

Bellamy, Riise help match go Liverpool’s way

Only a few days ago, Liverpool's Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise were battling each other in a training-camp fracas, but the pair joined forces to give Liverpool a memorable 2-1 win at Barcelona on Wednesday. One goal from each man made Liverpool the overwhelming favourites to progress to the Champions League quarterfinals.

Barca explain Eto’o absence

Three-time African Player of the Year Samuel Eto'o has been left out of the Barcelona squad to play Liverpool in their Champions League last 16 first-leg match on Wednesday. The Catalan club said on Tuesday that last season's Spanish First Division top scorer would miss the clash between the last two Champions League winners because he was still not 100% fit.

Torrealba back to torment Celtic

As if defending Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns have not posed sufficient problems for their opponents of late, up pops the player the Brazilians call ''El Buddah'' to further torment Bloemfontein Celtic at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Real Madrid, Man United win in Champions League

Manchester United's 1-0 win over Lille on Tuesday in the Champions League was marred by crowd incidents and a contentious goal. Real Madrid, however, helped ease the pressure on its coach by beating Bayern Munich 3-2. Also, PSV Eindhoven beat Arsenal 1-0 and Celtic held AC Milan to a 0-0 in the other first leg matches of the second round.

Slumping Windies look for home boost

Ever since their stunning capture of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy for the first time three years ago in England, there has been widespread optimism in the Caribbean that West Indies could be the first host nation to win the World Cup.

Pakistan grapple with fitness concerns

Fitness and fielding hold the key if Pakistan want to turn their huge potential into success in the World Cup in the Caribbean. Pakistan have had a dismal build-up to their Cup campaign as question marks hang over the fitness of key bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, with fears that none could feature.

Testing time for Chelsea

The strength of Chelsea's recent revival faces its first real test when the English champions take on their Portuguese counterparts, FC Porto, on Wednesday. Jose Mourinho returns to the club he guided to 2003 Uefa Cup and 2004 Champions League triumphs with a Chelsea squad that has put together a run of six successive wins.

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