‘We need to be hard on ourselves’ – India captain Virat Kohli pulls no punches

Captain Virat Kohli pulled no punches in his assessment of India’s performance in the ongoing Test series against South Africa.

The Proteas wrapped up a comfortable 135-run win in Centurion on Wednesday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, bringing the Asian tourists back down to earth after a string of nine straight series wins.

"We need to be hard on ourselves," said Kohli. "We need to ask ourselves if we are giving 120 percent for the team every time we play a ball, bowl a ball or field a ball.

"As a team we will definitely lay out these things in the open and ask the guys to be honest about what they were thinking about at particular stages of the game."

The Indian skipper acknowledged that South Africa had outplayed them on a slow pitch which should have played into the strengths of the tourists.

"These conditions are something we are used to," he said. "South Africa collectively were a much better team than us."

However, Kohli refused to fall into the thinking that his team is not worthy of their number one ranking on the ICC ladder, insisting that they had chances to dominate both Tests.

"We have to believe we are the best side. We have had opportunities to win in both games so that is the positive we can take out of it," he concluded.

The third and final Test starts next week Wednesday, January 24, at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

India captain Virat Kohli

Robert Kubica upbeat despite missing out on Williams race seat

Robert Kubica believes he can attain “personal satisfaction and goals” in his role as Williams’ reserve driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season.

The Pole was beaten to the Williams race seat by Russian Sergey Sirotkin, but he will still join the British team as their official reserve and development driver.

It’s not the role Kubica was hoping for, having declared his ambition to return to full-time racing in F1, but the 33-year-old is still embracing his new job.

“My role will be a development and reserve driver,” he explained.

“Of course time has changed in Formula 1 so there is a bit less action and much more simulator work.

“I will be working, trying to improve the car, help the team in the simulator but also some activities on the race track in order to be in a position to give better feedback.

“Having been given the chance to drive a Formula 1 car, and actually see that I’m able to do it, was one of my best days of my life.

“I will have a bit of time in the car, behind the wheel, and I’m looking forward to that for sure.

“But I’m also looking forward to trying to help the guys with the simulator to get it as close as possible to reality.

“It is a bit different role than racing but I think I can have personal satisfaction and personal goals this year.”

Robert Kubica

Have locker-room politics cost Manchester City the chance to sign Alexis Sanchez?

Have locker-room politics cost Manchester City the chance to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal?

City were the clear favourites to land the Chilean, who is set to leave the Gunners in the current transfer window, but on Monday the club stated that they have pulled out of the race.

This leaves Manchester United with a clear run to sign the 29-year-old, though Chelsea are also in contention.

The Times reports that the breaking point for City was Sanchez’s personal demands. The striker wants a salary of over GBP20-million, which would make him the highest paid player in English football history.

The problem facing City was Kevin de Bruyne and his new contract negotiations. There were concerns De Bruyne and several other senior City players would immediately be demanding pay increases to fall in line with Sanchez’s record salary.

Meanwhile, United’s hopes of landing Sanchez may hinge on Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If the Armenian is keen on a switch to Arsenal, then he will be used as a ‘makeweight’ in a deal between the clubs.

Nico Rosberg: I’d return to F1 for Las Vegas and South Africa

Nico Rosberg says he would come out of retirement and return to F1 if the sport added Las Vegas and South Africa to its calendar.

Rosberg retired from F1 at the end of the 2016 season, opting for a quiet family life over the chance to defend the World Championship.

There have been rumours of a possible return, but Rosberg has remained steadfast in his assertion that his racing days are over.

However, in a Twitter Q&A posted on his YouTube channel, the German said the prospect of racing in Las Vegas or South Africa might tempt him back into the F1 circus.

“I’d bring back the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, that sounds damn cool,” the German explained.

Kyalami last staged a GP in 1993. However, South Africa isn’t the only race he wants back on the calendar.

“Las Vegas,” Rosberg added. “That is the absolute, top notch, highest ever possible… Las Vegas Grand Prix! And deciding the championship there, that would be pretty special.

“I would have to make a comeback for that race.”

former Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg

Real Madrid is f***ed up, according to manager Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says the club is “f***ed up” after suffering another poor result in La Liga this past weekend.

Real lost 1-0 at home to Villarreal at Saturday to see remain in fourth place on the standings. They are a full 19 points adrift of leaders and arch rivals Barcelona.

After guiding ‘Los Blancos’ to a La Liga and Champions League double last season, ‘Zizou’ is coming under increasing pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“It’s very difficult for the confidence,” said Zidane. “We had chances to score but in the end… we couldn’t avoid the counter and… it’s just very f***ed up for all the players.”

The loss leaves Villarreal just a point behind Real Madrid in fifth place, and Zidane admits times are becoming desperate for his side.

“We have to get a win from somewhere,” he added. “We know the situation and every day it gets more complicated, so we are not even thinking about the League, just about the next match.”

Real will be back in league action on Sunday when they hosts strugglers Deportivo La Coruna.

Zinedine Zidane

Jean Todt warns that budget cap alone won’t control costs in Formula 1

FIA president Jean Todt insists that a proposed budget cap won’t be enough to control costs in Formula 1.

The high cost of the sport has long been a controversial talking-point, with many teams hoping that a budget cap will be introduced to level the playing field.

Under the current rules and regulations, the ‘big three’ of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are able to flex their financial muscle and develop their cars to a much greater degree than the smaller teams.

The issue of spiraling costs has long been a sore point, but Todt insists that a budget cap would need to be accompanied by other measures to truly make the sport more affordable and accessible.

“We have been talking about cost control/cost cap for a while,” said Todt via Motorsport.com. “I believe it is a good move, but for me it has to be a combination.

“We need to make regulations which will have some impact on the actual costs. To simply say we are going make a cost cap, I don’t think it will work. So far, any attempt has not worked.

“We have to be able to agree something that will be more sophisticated in order to achieve that.”

I’ll only leave Chelsea by being sacked – Antonio Conte throws down the gauntlet

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has explained that he has not intention of quitting the London club and will only leave if he is fired.

The Italian was an instant hit in England as he took the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season in charge.

But this term has been a much tougher challenge, with Chelsea essentially competing against Manchester United for second place - such has been the dominance enjoyed by Manchester City, who will surely dethrone the Blues as champions.

Conte’s position as Chelsea boss has come under increasing scrutiny, with the Italian not signing an extension to his current deal (which expires in 2019) and criticising the club’s transfer policy.

After a frustrating goalless draw at home to Leicester City on Saturday, Conte said that he plans to remain at Chelsea for the forseeable future.

“Everything is possible,” he said. “In one moment you stay here, in another moment another person replaces you in your job.”

Asked if he would extend his contract with Chelsea, he added: “In this case, I think the club has to decide to send me away.”

Conte, who has been linked with jobs in Italy and with Paris St Germain in France, was then asked if he would resign. He said: “No.”

Conte insisted he is happy at Chelsea, will continue to work as a professional and “never give up”.

He added: “For the manager of this club it’s normal to have this type of situation, also if you won last season the league and you reached the final in FA Cup.”

SA Rugby confirms withdrawal of Steinhoff as Springbok Sevens sponsor

SA Rugby confirmed on Monday that it had received notification from Steinhoff International that the company was withdrawing from all sponsorship activities. It means the Springbok Men’s and Women’s, and SA Rugby Sevens Academy teams will no longer carry the company’s logo.

“We have been kept informed by Steinhoff of their thinking and they have confirmed their intention to withdraw from their sponsorship of Sevens rugby with immediate effect,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“It has been completed amicably and by agreement. We’d like to thank Steinhoff for their commitment and support over the past two seasons.”

Roux said that the process had already begun to identify an alternative partner.

“We believe all our national teams have characteristics, values and a unique South African DNA that makes them highly attractive to commercial partners,” said Roux.

“The Springbok Sevens team has added to that with consistently high standards of performance as the current holders of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title and we believe they will be an attractive proposition for potential partners.”

During 2018 , the Springbok Sevens team will defend their Commonwealth Games title on Australia’s Gold Coast between 13 and 15 April and then challenge for the Sevens Rugby World Cup title in San Francisco between 20 and 22 July.

The Springbok Women’s Sevens team will also contest both events. The Blitzboks are next in action in the HSBC World Sevens Series in Sydney, Australia, on 26-28 January.

Williams set to offer Robert Kubica reserve driver role

Williams Formula 1 team look set to offer Robert Kubica a reserve driver role for the 2018 season.

French media outlet L’Equipe reports that Kubica’s hopes of a fairytale return to the sport, having recovered from life-threatening injuries, won’t be fulfilled just yet.

The Polish racer has been vying for the open seat at the British team alongside youngster Lance Stroll, following Felipe Massa’s retirement at the end of 2017.

Yet it appears that Russian Sergey Sirotkin is set to land the Williams drive, with an announcement expected to be made sometime this week.

But rather than discard Kubica, Williams are interested in making him their reserve driver for the upcoming campaign and give him the chance to drive in Friday practice sessions.

With two young drivers in Sirotkin and Stroll, it is believed Kubica's experience would be a valuable asset to the team as he could help with the set-up of their 2018 challenger.

Robert Kubica

After achieving life-long goal, top-ranked Kagiso Rabada insists he can still improve

Despite achieving a life-long goal in reaching first place on the ICC Test rankings for bowlers, South African speedster Kagiso Rabada insists he still has plenty of room for improvement.

The 22-year-old leapfrogged England’s James Anderson into top spot this week following the Proteas’ dramatic victory over India in the first Test in Cape Town. Rabada took five wickets in the match.

"It's what I always wanted to do (reaching No.1). Now, I just want to keep performing and winning games for the team and to keep getting better and better," Rabada was quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

"There's always something you can improve on. Once you get something right, there's always something new that you can work on.

"I just need to just do more and more, striving for perfection. You are never going to reach perfection but at least [try to] get there and thereabouts."

The youngster insists that skill has been just as important in his rise as the searing pace he is able to generate.

"I don't know how fast I can get but I always try my best. I can feel when I am bowling quickly and when I am not,” he explained.

“Sometimes I feel I am bowling quickly and the speed gun says 145 or sometimes I can feel like I bowl a decent ball and the speed gun says 131.

“I feel like the pace is something that's already there, what's important is the skill."

Rabada will look to play another leading role when South Africa and India clash in the second Test, which starts on Saturday morning in Centurion.

Rabada stocks keep on raising

Zak Brown: McLaren need to be “challenging towards the front”

McLaren executive director Zak Brown says their Formula 1 team needs to be “challenging towards the front” of the grid in the 2018 season.

The British team has parted ways with engine supplier Honda after a disastrous three-year spell, and will be powered by Renault going forward.

The French marque’s engine is a proven race-winner, having taken Red Bull to three victories through 2017, so they were generally outpaced by the Ferrari and Mercedes cars.

Nonetheless, the new partnership is enough for Brown to be encouraged of much better fortunes for McLaren in 2018.

“We are one of the big teams, we need to get back to the front,” he told Sky Sports. “We haven’t, and certainly won’t publicly, set any expectations because that’s dangerous.

“We are coming off ninth in the championship so I can promise you we’ll be doing better than that but that’s the ball park we need to be. We expect to be challenging towards the front.”

He added: “We think we’ll have a competitive race car so I think you’re going to see Fernando [Alonso] and Stoffel [Vandoorne] racing each other hard – which will be exciting as long as they don’t take each other off! – and hopefully we’re fighting for podiums. I hope that’s the top step.”

However, Brown recognises that McLaren face a tough task breaking into the top three in the standings.

“Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are awesome teams that have significant budgets which hopefully will get addressed in the new deal [from 2021], but that’s still a few years away,” he explained.

“So we’re going to chase them hard and hope that we’re spraying some champagne.”

Zak Brown

Boxing SA releases star-studded list of nominees for Boxing Awards

The nominees for 2018 Boxing South Africa Awards were announced in East London today, Wednesday 10 January 2018 during a function attended by a number of special guests including the Minister of Sport, Mr Thulas Nxesi.

The list of nominees features some of the country’s finest products who have been making waves both at national and international level.

The Male and Female Boxer of the Year category will be closely contested – as it featured a star-studded line-up.

Zolani Tete, Azinga Fuzile, Thulani Mbenge and Kevin Lerena will battle for the coveted Male Boxer of the Year while Prudends Mapule Ngubane, Bukiwe Nonina and Noni Tenge have been nominated for the Female Boxer of the Year.

The announcement of the nominees was attended by the Minister of Sport, Mr Nxesi, Eastern Cape MEC of Sport, Arts and Culture Ms Pemmy Majodina and Boxing SA CEO Mr. Tsholo Lejake.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister of Sport, Mr Nxesi said: “Boxing Awards are part of Sport and Recreation South Africa’s commitment to promote social cohesion and nation building. It is important that we continue to recognise our sport luminaries for their personal achievements as well as promote them as role models for sport and healthy living.”

Boxing SA CEO, Mr Tsholo Lejake said: “BSA congratulates all nominees in the various categories of the Boxing Awards as announced today. We also appreciate that this happened in a media event officiated by both the Minister and the MEC of Sport, Arts & Culture here in the Eastern Cape. We are now firmly focused on the pathway towards Boardwalk Hotel on the 2 February 2018 when we host the final award ceremony.”

The Boxing SA awards will be held in Port Elizabeth on 02 February 2018.

Boxing Awards Nominees 2017 Final

Tsholofelo Lejake

Philippe Coutinho asks for Liverpool fans’ understanding following Barcelona switch

Philippe Coutinho has asked for the understanding of Liverpool fans following his £142million switch to Spanish giants Barcelona.

The 25-year-old Brazilians became the second most expensive transfer of all time when he swapped Anfield for the Camp Nou this past weekend

He has since posted a message to Reds supporters on his Instagram account.

“Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool, me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends,” he wrote.

“On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters.

“Moving to Liverpool, I knew the club’s greatness and history but what I did learn during my time was the unique heart and soul of the place. It has its own personality and character.

“I leave Liverpool because Barcelona is a dream for me. Liverpool was a dream that I was fortunate enough to realise and I have given five years of my life to it.

“A career on the pitch only lasts for so long and to play for Barcelona as well as Liverpool is something I want to experience and enjoy while I am blessed enough to be able to do so.

“I hope the supporters understand that choosing to experience something new is not about diminishing their importance to me or the club’s importance. Nothing will ever diminish that in my heart.

“I wish Jurgen (Klopp) and the team nothing but joy and success for the rest of this season and beyond. This is an amazing team and they are getting better and better all the time.

“I can never thank you enough for what you have given me during this time and no matter where I go in the world, for the rest of my life, I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart. You, the club and the city will always be a part of me.”

Philippe Coutinho

Jolyon Palmer deserves top drive – Renault chief

Renault Formula 1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul insists Jolyon Palmer deserves a “world class championship drive” - despite having dropped him toward the end of last season.

The British driver was axed by Renualt’s F1 team ahead of last year’s USA Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz coming in to replace him.

The move saw the end of Palmer’s time in F1 and there has been no suggestion that he will be returning to the sport anytime soon.

However, Abiteboul is hopeful that the young driver will end up racing in a “world class” series.

“I think it’s fair to say Jo and his family are not in complete control of the next steps and their future,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We did try to look at options, which I don’t want to detail publicly, but I don’t think Jonathan or Jo would challenge the fact we’ve been extremely helpful – the best we could.

“Anything we can do to help Jo we will do, because I really think he deserves to be in a world class championship.

“The avenues we explored have not worked out so far, but we will see – Renault is a large family in motorsports, we have a number of activities, so we will see what the future can hold for everyone.”

Jolyon Palmer

Are Real Madrid already out of La Liga’s title race? Marcelo says they’re ‘sinking’

Spanish and European champions Real Madrid appear to be out of the running in the La Liga title race after they were held 2-2 by Celta Vigo on Sunday night.

This result, which followed on from their 0-3 loss to arch rivals and current log leaders Barcelona last month, left ‘Los Blancos’ a full 16 points off the top (though they have one game in hand).

"It is how it looks from the outside - we are sad, angry and we feel like we are sinking," Marcelo told reporters after the match, which saw Real allow a lead to slip away.

"It is one of the worst situations I've experienced here," added the Brazilian defender, who has been with the club for over a decade.

"We'll try to work hard and fight so we can win our next game but we don't like this situation at all, it's difficult because the more games you draw or lose the more pressure you are under."

Real Madrid have not been this far behind the Liga leaders since 2012/13, which was Jose Mourinho’s last in charge of the club. They ended up 15 points adrift of champions Barcelona in that campaign.

"There's nothing else we can do other than keep our heads up and fight and do our best to start winning again," added Marcelo, who has won four La Liga and three Champions League titles since joining Real in 2007.

"We can't do anything more, we're trying to play good football, to move the ball around and score goals but it's not coming off."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane condemned his side’s display, but stopped short of saying they were out of the title race.

"The main thing we lacked today was we didn't play the second half," said the Frenchman. "We played very well in the first 45 minutes but not in the second half and a game lasts 90 minutes."

He added, "We're not going to talk about the league every weekend. If we keep losing points we're not going to get there. We have to focus on each game now and try to win them.”

Zidane coach of Real Madrid

Australia’s No 1 Kyrgios wins Brisbane title, but could miss Australian Open

Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios won the Brisbane International title at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Sunday.

However, the 22-year-old has warned that a knee injury could rule him out of the Australian Open.

Kyrgios beat American tennis player Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 in the final with 17 aces.

According to Sky Sports News, Kyrgios warned officials that a knee injury, over which he had worn protective strapping all week, could ruin his participation at his home Grand Slam.

The Canberra-born star, who is Australia's No 1 was denied a medical time-out during the first set, when leading 5-3.

As a result, Kyrgios insisted that his Australian Open hopes were at stake. He then questioned the officials allowing Harrison a mid-match break off the court after the first set.

Nevertheless, the win improved his world ranking to No 17, and earned Kyrgios his seventh ATP title and his first in his home country.

This year’s Australian Open will be played between 15-28 January.

Nick Kyrgios