South Africa vs Sri Lanka
07/10/2023 – 10:30
South Africa will be hoping they can set aside past ghosts and get off to a flyer as we welcome the 2023 Cricket World Cup
Will this be the year that the Proteas reach the promised land? Not many fans believe it will be. The expectations of South Africa lifting cricket’s prized trophy has been lowered over the years. Fans that watched the 1999 semi-final will see that as arguably our best and worst tournament. The image of Allan Donald being run out by Australia is still fresh in the minds of thousands of supporters.
Lady luck has always evaded South Africa during the One Day spectacle. From dropped-catches to Duckworth – the cricket gods have had it in for the Proteas. But maybe when you least expect it, that is when the stars line up to achieve cricket’s holy grail.
No disrespect to Sri Lanka, ODI kings in 1996, but the players from then and now are poles apart. Some of South Africa’s young stars in the current setup tasted success when they won the Under-19 World Cup. They would love nothing more than to replicate that achievement this time around.
The Proteas did well to win their last ODI series against the Aussies. Their warm-up game against Afghanistan was abandoned, and they lost by seven runs to the Black Caps on Duckworth-Lewis – so they’re not in the greatest form but expect to pick up a win provided the weather plays its part.
On paper, South Africa’s squad is capable of defeating anyone on their day and going all the way. The first win is vital to get the early jitters out of the way. Maybe this is the year that South Africa buries the ‘Chokers’ tag once and forever.
SOUTH AFRICA TO WIN
Ireland vs Scotland
07/10/2023 – 21:00
Knockout rugby comes a week early as there’s a possibility of seeing one of the potential finalists heading home.
Ireland and South Africa were always favourites to advance from this group. But as it stands, Group B remains open, and Scotland can spoil the party if they produce the game of their lives. It’s going to take a monumental effort that’s probably worthy of winning the tournament.
Ireland have been nothing but faultless. They’re expected to get the win and top the group which will allow the Springboks to finish second. But we’ve witnessed some major upsets and shock results in sport, so anything is possible if a favourite team shows complacency on the day.
If three teams all finish on the same points then points difference determines who tops the pool, before head-to-head for the two other nations.
How can the Scots qualify?
Gregor Townsend’s side need to beat Ireland and deny them a bonus point to finish second on the head-to-head rule. If Scotland win with a bonus point but Ireland also secures a bonus point as well then, the two teams will finish level with South Africa on 15 points. In this scenario, points differential will determine the Pool B winner, with head-to-head for the runner-up.
How can the Irish qualify?
Ireland is second in Pool B on 14 points and will top the group if they avoid defeat or lose by four points or fewer to Scotland. They can also top the pool on the head-to-head rule if they get a losing bonus point and Scotland do not get a bonus point. The Irish will be knocked out if they lose without securing a bonus point.
This is going to be an exciting encounter and Scotland will give everything, but it’s difficult to see anything else apart from an Irish victory.
IRELAND TO WIN
Arsenal vs Manchester City
08/10/2023 – 17:30
Just before the second international break kicks in, there’s a small matter to be addressed in North London as the treble winners face the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta would love nothing more than a win and entering the break sitting on top of the table. This will be a tough task, considering key player Bukayo Saka is a major doubt after he picked up a knock in their Champions League loss to Lens during the week. The Gunners are undefeated since the start of the season and would love to keep that intact.
City suffered two consecutive losses after Newcastle dumped them out of the Carabao Cup and were stunned by Wolves last weekend. They bounced back with a Champions League win over RB Leipzig. Pep Guardiola was in full praise of his young stars, especially Rico Lewis, who could make an impact this weekend.
City have already lost to Arsenal this season in the Community Shield. A result which may still be at the front of Pep Guardiola’s mind. However, Erling Haaland will be the main threat as he attempts to be the first player (who doesn’t play for a London club) since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 to score in five successive games in London. The potential loss of the influential Saka is a blow and that could lead to City picking up a narrow win.
MANCHESTER CITY TO WIN
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