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Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sport Sunday: Patriots, New Zealand, Africa and more

Cameroon at practice
For a month we have been following the great games of the Total Africa Cup of Nations.  That competition wraps up today, with the Championship game to be played between Egypt and Cameroon at the Stade d'Angondjé, in the suburbs of Libreville, Gabon. Egypt have conceded just one regular goal in the tournament, even though they lost their goalkeeper, Ahmed El Shenawy, to injury in their opening game. His replacement, Essam El Hadary, is 44, and has had the time of his life.  Cameroon’s goalkeeper, Fabrice Ondoa, only turned 21 in December.  While Ondoa shows a lot of promise,  El Hadary’s won his first Africa Cup in  1998. Age vs. youth, East vs. West...  With the many contrasts inherent in the game, Sunday's championship game will be a classic contest of the ages. 

Dubai: The Omega Dubai Desert Classic continues today with Round 4, part of European Golf Tour.  Friday's Round 2 competition quickly became "Freakish Friday" as a freak storm swept through and suspended play.  The round was completed Saturday morning, and pushed back Round 3 play.  Dubai has become a hotspot for night golf, but the end of Round 3, well after dark, was a challenge to the golfers who remained on the course.  "At the end it was very, very dark, I’ll tell you that," said Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia, "When we were walking on 17, I thought ‘well, it will probably be a little dark but not too bad’. But then it gets dark very, very quickly here."  Despite the darkness, he stretched his lead going into the final round to three shots.  Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the competition. 

In Rugby, the Six Nations competition kicked off this weekend, and the current iteration will be contested on weekends through March 18th.  Italy will take on Wales this afternoon at Rome's Olympic Stadium.  Brendan Venter, Italy’s new defence coach, was instrumental in the London  Saracens' turnaround in recent years, from losers to European Champions.   Italy may have a chance to be a real force in Six Nations competition this year with their new defence coach, we shall know if they have started on that journey this afternoon. 

Italian eyes will look elsewhere, this afternoon, to the Italian Soccer "Derby" matchup of Iuventus vs. Inter.  In Dutch Eredivisie play this afternoon, Netherlands league leader  Feyenoord Rotterdam  takes on Twente Enschede this afternoon  at Twente's home stadium De Grolsch Veste. 

Super Bowl LI:  The New England Patriots  vs. The Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. This is the third Super Bowl in Houston and fourth in Texas.  Four-time champion Quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots contest their record ninth Super Bowl.  The Atlanta Falcons were the 2016 NFL leaders in scoring, while having one of the worst defences in the league.  The Patriots, on the other hand, had one of the most rigorous defences in the league,  allowing the fewest points in the NFL.  Boston College alum and star quarterback Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley star for Atlanta.

Mitchell Starc got shaved

While you were sleeping, in International Cricket, Australia continued their tour of New Zealand, with their 3rd ODI contest: New Zealand vs. Australia at Hamilton.  New Zealand won by 24 runs, garnering 281/9 (50.0 overs), while Australia scored 257 (47.0 overs).  New Zealand Team Captain Kane Williamson said, after the game  "Both games were fairly similar. The wickets were similar, on these grounds you're never out of the game. Australia showed why they're a top side, at times we felt we had them, but they kept coming hard. Credit to our guys for sucking up the pressure."   

We'll leave you with that thought.