Like Usain Bolt before her, Olympic champion Caster Semenya is trading her track cleats for soccer boots.
At least for now.
Unable to compete in track if she refuses to take testosterone-altering drugs, the two-time 800m gold medalist has signed for a South Africa women’s soccer team.
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Semenya joined JVW FC, a six-year old club founded by South African women’s national team captain Janine van Wyk (Surely no ego was spared in the naming of the club!).
Here’s the explanation from Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi.
Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.
Can she finish? That’s the big question (and we’re also assuming that, like Bolt, she’ll be used in attack).
Here’s what Van Wyk said about adding Semenya to the club (Van Wyk, it should be noted, does not play for the club that bears her initials):
“I am extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete join my football club. I am absolutely honored that out of all the other women’s clubs around the world, she has chosen JVW as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills. I welcomed her at her first training with the team on Tuesday, and was impressed to see that she definitely has all the fundamentals. I look forward to her working with Coach Ciara and our First Team where I am sure she will sharpen up and get ready to play in 2020. Although I won’t be here for the rest of the year, as I have just signed with Fortuna Hjorring, I have no doubt that Caster will fit right in, and enjoy her time at the club.”
Senegal and Nigeria both faced surprise quarterfinalists in Benin and South Africa, and both found out their opponents were no slouch, requiring slim one-goal victories to reach the semifinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Up first in thee day, Senegal topped Benin 1-0 on a 69th minute strike by Idrissa Gueye who burst straight down the heart of the Benin defense and took a feed from Sadio Mane before slotting home the winner. For much of the game, Benin’s defensive shape locked Senegal down, as the favorites held 63% possession but could only manage four shots on target to Benin’s three.
Mane was the most incisive Senegal attacker, and he saw two goals wiped off the board by VAR checks for offside. It looked that Benin actually may take a shock lead early in the second half as Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis nearly put one clumsily into his own net, but the potential own-goal skittered wide and Gueye struck soon after. Benin defender Olivier Verdon, who just joined La Liga side Alaves this summer, was sent off late for a foul on Gueye to essentially seal the match.
Nigeria was also under threat of upset as they took on South Africa, but a late winner from Udinese defender William Troost-Ekong gave them a 2-1 victory and a spot in the semifinals. The 89th minute decider was bundled home by the 25-year-old after South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams whiffed looking to punch a corner.
That proved vital as previously, Samuel Chukwueze’s first-half goal off his blocked first attempt cancelled out a 71st minute effort from Bongani Zungu. The South Africa equalizer survived a contentious VAR check that appeared to confirm a blatant offside, but the assist came off the back of Odion Ighalo so the goal stood.
With both winners into the semifinals, Senegal will draw the winner of Madagascar and Tunisia, while Ivory Coast and Algeria battle for a chance to meet Nigeria in the semis. Both those remaining quarterfinals take place tomorrow, with the semifinals set for July 14 in Cairo.
The first two quarterfinals take place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday, as Senegal and Nigeria are heavily favored to win and reach the final four.
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Sadio Mane’s Senegal face Benin, who shocked Morocco in the Round of 16, while Nigeria take on South Africa who similarly shocked the world as they dumped hosts Egypt out of the competition. Mane has scored three goals so far and along with Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo, Algeria’s Adam Ounas and DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu they lead the tournament in goals.
If Senegal prevail they will face the winner of Madagascar and Tunisia in Cairo on Sunday, while if Nigeria take care of business they will play either the Ivory Coast or Algeria in a stacked side of the bracket.
Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Wednesday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Wednesday, July 10
Senegal v. Benin – 12 p.m. ET
Nigeria v. South Africa – 3 p.m. ET
Saturday is setting up to be a massive day at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as three nations with a legitimate chance to win the entire tournament set sail in the knockout rounds.
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Cameroon and Nigeria, with eight African Cup between them (five and three, respectively), will face off in the day’s first game (12 p.m. ET), followed by host nation and seven-time champions (all-time leaders) Egypt versus South Africa (3 p.m. ET), one-time winners themselves.
Senegal and Benin were the first two nations through to the quarterfinals after their respective victories on Friday.
Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Saturday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Saturday, July 6
Cameroon v. Nigeria — 12 p.m. ET
Egypt v. South Africa — 3 p.m. ET
The thrills were relatively scaled down at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Friday as just four goals dotted a three-match landscape in Egypt.
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Tunisia 1-1 Mali
The only match with a pair of goals saw them come 10 minutes apart, as Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Diadie Samassékou staked Mali to a 60th minute lead and former Sunderland playmaker Wahbi Khazri saw his free kick deflect into the Mali goal in the 70th.
The draw opens the door for both Mauritania and Angola, as well as a blockbuster final day in Group E.
South Africa 1-0 Namibia
Bongani Zungu’s 68th goal was well-earned, with Bafana Bafana outshooting Namibia to the tune of 17-6.
Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast
Herve Renard has won AFCON twice and already has Morocco in the knockout rounds following a 2-0 start to the tournament. Leganes striker Youssef En-Nesyri scored the lone goal of the encounter.