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Could this finally be Banyana Banyana’s year?

If preparation, organisation, and motivation were the measures of champions, the rest of the field might as well surrender the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations trophy to South Africa.

Banyana Banyana, AWCON finalists in 2012 and fourth place finishers at the last two tournaments, appear to have zeroed in on a target of winning their first-ever title, and with it their maiden trip to a FIFA Women’s World Cup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Banyana are second only to Nigeria in number of appearances at Africa’s premiere championship for women, since the inaugural competition in 1991. Of the 12 official tournaments, South Africa have only missed one, the 1995 edition when they withdrew.

In that period, they have been runners up four times, finished third twice and fourth two times for a total of nine top four finishes behind Nigeria and Cameroon. Their points haul of 71 is second only to Nigeria, although a long way shy of the Super Falcons’ 126.

For all of the impressive numbers, the one thing they have never managed is to claim the top prize. Outside of Nigeria, who have won 10 out of 12, only Equatorial Guinea have managed that honour.6

After four near misses, Banyana now look primed to make a strong play for the top prize. And they have made no bones about it.

Of all the teams going to Ghana, Banyana Banyana can claim to be the most prepared. By the time they run out for their friendly against hosts Ghana on November 11, they would have played a total of 15 games in 2018. That is way more than any other team on the continent.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Their results in those games have not been shabby, either. They racked up eight wins, three draws, and three losses. Those losses came against tough European and South American opposition in Sweden, Belgium, and Chile. They did beat Hungary and drew with Korea DPR, Slovakia, and Chile.

All their other wins came against African opposition, including 2016 AWCON finalists Cameroon, whom they despatched 2-1 in the COSAFA Cup final.

By contrast, Nigeria have only played eight games. Five of those were at the WAFU Cup, where they were beaten in the semifinals by Ghana, one was a friendly which they lost scandalously to France 8-0, and the other two were the two-legged AWCON qualifiers against Gambia, which they won 7-0 on aggregate.

Canberra’s Refiloe Jane may hold the key to Banyana’s success

Much is made of South Africa’s players that turned out for Houston Dash this season in the USA, but arguably the most consistent Banyana Banyana player has been Canberra United’s Refiloe Jane.

The silky midfielder is not often given the plaudits she deserves, but is the heartbeat at the centre of the park for the national side, and has added another string to her bow – scoring goals.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

She and striker Rhoda Mulaudzi, who has not been selected for the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana later this month, recently signed contracts with Canberra in Australia, joining the likes of Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana (both Houston Dash) and Leandra Smeda (Gintra Universitetas, Lithuania) as players who ply their trade abroad.5

Jane has started well with two goals, albeit both penalties, and an assist in her opening couple of games for Canberra, following on from her good form that saw her net twice in the final of the COSAFA Women’s Championship in September, which saw Banyana defeat Cameroon.

“The hard work I have put in … I have playing well but not scoring through the years,” she admits. “It is one of the aspects that I have worked hard on, because sometimes I get in those positions to score but would miss.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I have been working hard on boosting my confidence in front of goal. I just want to be a better player.”

It has been a demanding few months for Jane, who has criss-crossed the world, and she knows that all the travel could have a negative effect on her performance in Ghana, but believes she is in good hands.

“Things have been going well [in Australia], we’ve settled in well. The people have been good for us,” Jane told reporters ahead of the trip to Ghana this month. “Everything is on track, in the two games we have played we have gelled with the team.”

Caris LeVert is still a cornerstone for the Brooklyn Nets

No one who has gotten to know Caris LeVert over the past half-decade — as an almost redshirt at the University of Michigan, and breakout star with the Brooklyn Nets — will be surprised to hear there will be minimal sulking after LeVert’s foot injury Monday.

It is one of LeVert’s defining traits — something that has made him a beloved teammate, and cultural keystone of the Nets’ long rebuild: He takes joy in the success of others, even when things are not going well for him. At Michigan, those in the program were stunned LeVert sustained such positivity even as three foot surgeries derailed his career.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Across the Nets, there had been universal exhilaration at LeVert’s rise from preseason backup to franchise centerpiece. Even rivals for that status found themselves swept up in it, in part because LeVert always offers them the same emotional support.

“It is all genuine with Caris,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said during an interview at the team’s practice facility two weeks ago. “He is real.”5

It all overflowed after Brooklyn’s second game, when LeVert dusted Tim Hardaway Jr., his college teammate, and coaxed in a tilting layup to beat the Knicks. When Atkinson embraced LeVert in the locker room, LeVert smiled and told him, “I owed you one, Coach,” referencing some crunch-time error from Brooklyn’s season-opening loss in Detroit that Atkinson couldn’t even recall.

Player and coach fast developed a special relationship. Two years ago, Atkinson called LeVert to wish him a happy birthday but activated FaceTime by accident. (“I don’t even FaceTime my wife,” he said, not joking.) LeVert, surprised, picked up. Ten months later, on Atkinson’s birthday, his FaceTime went off again. It was LeVert, unprompted, creating a tongue-in-cheek tradition.

“Like, who even remembers their coach’s birthday?” Atkinson asked. “And then remembers we have this silly thing?”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Jacque Vaughn, the Nets assistant who has worked most closely with LeVert, searched him out after that game winner. That shot, Vaughn told him, was proof of what coaches preached all summer.

“Never feel rushed,” Vaughn said, repeating a mantra they had developed. “You can get to any spot you want. You dictate everything. That was the shot you wanted, and no one was able to get you off of it. Never feel rushed.”

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott help save Cowboys’ season — for now

The Dallas Cowboys’ storylines entering Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t exactly positive.

The list included: a coach’s job security, a quarterback struggling to make plays, an offensive coordinator perhaps on his last chance and a defense left wobbly after its previous game. All in all, it added up to a season on the line.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But the Cowboys left Lincoln Financial Field with a 27-20 victory that seemed improbable after losing their first four road games of the season, and they find themselves alive and breathing, if not entirely well just yet.

“When you’re feeling low and you’re seeing the Grim Reaper and then come in and have your team perform the way these guys did, I promise you it’s a special feeling,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I won’t need any wings on that airplane getting back to Dallas.”6

They left Philly with a win after Jason Garrett rallied a young team that had been rattled and a coaching staff that had been questioned.

They left with a win after Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes in a road game for the first time this season. After Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 150 yards against the NFL’s second-best run defense and scored twice.

“I don’t know that I learned anything new [about his team],” Garrett said. “You try to build a team of guys who love football, who are mentally tough, and I think those things get revealed when you have to go through some adversity over the course of the season.

“I thought they did a great job coming back after [the Cowboys’ 28-14 loss to Tennessee the previous week], just getting back to work, not blinking. Just going back to work and understanding the importance of what this next opponent is and playing 60 minutes. Thought we did a better job of that in this game than we have in the last few games. Dealing with the adversities of the game and keep playing. Dealing with the successes of the game and keep playing.”

At times early in the game, Prescott was bad. He held on to the ball too long, which resulted in sacks — including a 13-yard sack in the second quarter.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

At times, Prescott was brilliant: At the end of the first half, he connected on five passes for 79 yards and sneaked in from a yard out with 19 seconds left for the Cowboys’ first touchdown.

Kawhi Leonard is leaving few clues about his upcoming free agency

When Kawhi Leonard was a kid growing up in Southern California, he was surrounded by Los Angeles Lakers fans. His adolescence matched the heyday of Kobe Bryant’s tenure with the franchise, and his family — like so many others in Riverside and other parts of the Inland Empire where he grew up — was full of devoted followers of the purple and gold.nfl cheap jerseys nike

For the past two offseasons, the Lakers have kept their powder dry in the trade market. Rather than sacrificing any of their young core — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — to pursue a trade for someone like Paul George or Leonard, the Lakers have been content to sit back, let them grow and hope the combination of a young talent base and the bright lights of Hollywood will be enough to lure star power back to Los Angeles again.

It turned out to be enough to get the biggest star of all, LeBron James, to join the Lakers on July 1. But George spurned the chance to play alongside James this summer, opting to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of free agency. And while there is plenty of time for things to change, there is a sense within the league Leonard will do the same next summer.

It was a throwaway line at the end of a short, perfunctory postpractice interview — one that, like virtually every such session Leonard is a part of, he dutifully worked to end as quickly as he could. But it also was a small window into the mindset Leonard has employed as he has lifted himself from being a high school star plying his trade 60 miles east of Los Angeles into the sport’s best two-way wing player.10

A survey of several league executives this weekend had the Lakers trailing, even among Staples Center tenants, in the competition to get Leonard, with the LA Clippers universally being placed ahead of them. Rather than seeking to team up with James, the thinking is that Leonard would prefer to have control of his own team, which the Clippers would offer, while still giving him the ability to return to his native Southern California.

The Lakers explored a potential Leonard trade this summer, but the San Antonio Spurs’ asking price prevented a deal from ever coming close to fruition. The Clippers, meanwhile, have relentlessly pursued Leonard since the summer but didn’t have the assets necessary to get a deal done.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Toronto, however, did, ultimately sending an All-Star (DeMar DeRozan), a young talent (Jakob Poeltl) and a first-round pick to San Antonio for Leonard and Danny Green. And now that the Raptors get to spend a season recruiting Leonard to remain north of the border, the Raptors have a quiet confidence about their ability to get him to stick around next summer.

One source of optimism stems from the fact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti was able to hang on to George — despite George having openly stated he wanted to play for the Lakers, Oklahoma City being one of the league’s smallest markets and the Thunder having lost in the first round of the playoffs last season. But the bigger source of optimism is what Toronto has to offer Leonard if he does decide to stay.

Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce have special homecomings in Cleveland

When it comes to being prepared to play, coach Andy Reid doesn’t worry about two of the Kansas City Chiefs in particular: running back Kareem Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce.

“They don’t need much to get them going,” Reid said. “That little extra doesn’t hurt. They were excited to be here. They get to play in front of family and friends. It can be expensive at times, but it’s worth it.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

Hunt and Kelce showed a lot to the hometown crowd. Hunt accounted for 141 total yards, while Kelce led the Chiefs with seven catches and 99 yards in the 37-21 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The two scored all five Kansas City touchdowns. Hunt had three and Kelce two.6

“We definitely can relate because we both came from this area,” Hunt said. “We know everything about it. It’s kind of special we’re on the same team going out there and having a big game for both of us. He had a big game and I had a big game. I think only Cleveland people scored today. That’s a good thing.”

Said Kelce, “That just tells you the type of special place that lies here in Northeast Ohio. It’s dear to my heart, and I love it to death … Browns fans, I’m sorry we had to do it, but we’re about business in Kansas City.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Each player shelled out for tickets for family members and friends. Kelce said he “couldn’t even count” how many people from the area he had at Sunday’s game.

Hunt, as a gesture of appreciation, bought tickets for the players and coaches at his former high school, Willoughby South.

“It’s really a dream come true that I’m able to do something like that for the high school and for the program, for the coaches,” Hunt said. “I just really wanted to go out there and win this game because it meant more to me, this game, than a lot of the other ones.

“I was definitely very excited coming into the game. It’s a stadium I used to drive by every day, almost. Now actually getting to play on the field in the NFL is really an honor.”

Christian McCaffrey’s leap reminds he’s still Panthers’ most dynamic weapon

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey didn’t anticipate having to jump about 5 feet to get over Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis during his 32-yard, first-quarter reception on Sunday.

It just instinctively happened, as everything seems to with the eighth pick of the 2017 draft.

But McCaffrey did anticipate some of the comments he heard after the 42-28 victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“‘White man can jump,'” McCaffrey said with a laugh. “Got a lot of those, but I saw those coming.”5

McCaffrey has been relatively quiet the past month, in terms of big games and spectacular plays. In some ways, he has been overshadowed by 2018 first-round pick DJ Moore and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel.

Samuel actually stole the spotlight on this day, with a 33-yard touchdown run on a double reverse on which he covered 103.9 yards.

But the leap was a reminder that McCaffrey is just as dynamic as anybody on Carolina’s offense. He picked up another 25 yards after the catch to set up the first of his two touchdown runs after having only one in the first seven games.nike nfl cheap jerseys

His overall play was a reminder of just how valuable he is.

McCaffrey rushed 17 times for a team-high 79 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes on six targets for a team-high 78 yards. That’s a substantial increase from the past month.

McCaffrey averaged 11.5 rushes for 38 yards the past four games since gaining 184 yards on 28 carries in a Week 3 win against Cincinnati. He averaged 4.8 catches per game for 30.6 yards in the five games since he caught 14 passes for 102 yards in a Week 2 loss at Atlanta.

KCCA FC head coach Mutebi attacked by ‘thugs’

KCCA FC head coach Mike Mutebi has sustained injuries after being attacked by ‘thugs’ at his residence in Kawempe, Kampala on Monday.

The Uganda Premier League-winning manager subsequently received treatment at the Nsambya Hospital, and should return to the dugout imminently.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Our coach was attacked at about 2am by thugs who broke into his home,” team spokesman Moses Magero told KweséESPN. “He is out of trouble after receiving treatment at Nsambya Hospital.7

“Apart from the few cuts, Mike is not in any form of danger, and is ready to lead the team in our Uganda Premier League game against SC Villa on Tuesday.”

Mutebi guided KCCA FC to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this season.

“That’s part of life,” he told KweséESPN. “Thankfully, I didn’t sustain very serious injuries, although I had to fight and protect myself against the thugs.”

Last Saturday, KCCA FC fought from a goal down to hold league champions and table-toppers Vipers SC to a 1-1 draw at St Marys Stadium in Kitende.nfl nike jersey cheap

KCCA are currently third on the log with 12 points after six games, while Vipers SC lead with 14 points and Bidco FC are second on 13.

The other games on Tuesday will see Nyamityobora FC host Kirinya Jinja SS, while Ndejje University FC battle fourth-placed Bright Stars FC.

Bidco FC have the chance to go top when they host URA FC at the Njeru Technical Centre Stadium.

Juventus continue unbeaten start in Serie A with win vs. Cagliari

Paulo Dybala scored after 44 seconds for Juventus but they were made to struggle in a 3-1 win over a brave Cagliari team as they stayed six points clear in Serie A on Saturday.

Juventus have now won 10 of their 11 league games but they needed the help of an own goal by Filip Bradaric after Joao Pedro had equalised for Cagliari.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Dybala gave Juve the perfect start when he received a pass on the edge of the penalty area, twisted one way and then the other and, despite slipping as he struck the ball, scored with a right-foot shot past Alessio Cragno.6

Cagliari fought back and, after having a penalty appeal for handball turned down following a VAR review, forced Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a point-blank save to block a Leonardo Pavoletti volley.

The Sardinian side deservedly levelled in the 36th minute when Joao Pedro controlled Darijo Srna’s cross with an excellent first touch before beating Szczesny with a low drive.

But Juve were gifted a goal less than two minutes later by Bradaric who, under no immediate pressure, slid in and diverted Douglas Costa’s low cross into the net.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit the post on the stroke of halftime, laid the third on a plate for Juan Cuadrado with three minutes left after Cagliari were exposed on the counter-attack.

Juve have 31 points out of a possible 33 with Inter Milan, who beat Genoa 5-0

Sources: Luke Walton takes heat from Magic Johnson for Lakers’ start

In a meeting on Tuesday, following a winless two-game trip, Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson admonished coach Luke Walton for the team’s sluggish start to the season, league sources told ESPN.

Johnson’s cutting appraisal elevated an already acute awareness within the Lakers coaching staff that there are intense and immediate pressures on Walton to deliver the franchise a winner in short order.cheap nike nfl jersey

Despite Johnson’s prior proclamations of needing to allow time for Walton to develop a young roster surrounding four-time MVP LeBron James, evidence is mounting that Walton’s job security ultimately depends upon his ability to significantly improve upon a 3-5 record to start the season.5

Johnson’s aggressive meeting tone circulated to individuals throughout the organization, including to principal owner Jeanie Buss, league sources said. Throughout his tenure with the Lakers, Johnson has earned an internal reputation for an oftentimes volatile management style, including with his handling of Walton and the coaching staff, sources said.

Buss’ support for Walton has remained unwavering since Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka assumed command of basketball operations in 2017.

Walton was hired by her brother, Jim Buss, and ex-general manager Mitch Kupchak less than a year before Johnson and Pelinka took over.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

One of the greatest players in the history of the game, Johnson’s business interests often lead him to be traveling away from the team. Johnson relies on Pelinka to run the day-to-day basketball operations and offer reports and analysis up to him.

Those invested in Walton’s Laker staying power felt a wave of relief once Dallas’ frantic comeback fell short in the Lakers’ 114-113 victory at Staples on Wednesday. In the wake of Johnson’s chiding, the prospect of riding a three-game losing streak into this weekend’s games — away at Portland and then the second of a back-to-back against surging Toronto — loomed to those on the staff, league sources said.

The Lakers’ slow start includes the absences of two starters, forward Brandon Ingram and guard Rajon Rondo, to suspensions of four and three games, respectively. Guard Lonzo Ball began training camp on a minutes restriction following offseason knee surgery.