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Early Christmas sports gifts

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“I want my team to be like Pirates. They are the best professional run team. I wish I can be like them.”

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December is the month in which most of us tend to wind down after a hectic year. But for a lot of sports people and sports teams, life goes on as normal in the month of Christmas.

No surprise then, that South African sports fans have a tasty menu of top-class sport to sample this weekend.

Yesterday, for example, the country’s oldest and most prestigious golf tournament, the South African Open, started at Randpark in Johannesburg.

Much of the attention will be focused on the high-profile South African trio of Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and five-time SA Open champion Ernie Els. But with a total prize fund of R17million up for grabs, plus a spot at next year’s British Open, you can expect top golf from the entire field.

The Blitzboks, meanwhile, will be desperate to make amends at the Cape Town Sevens. They had a disappointing outing in Dubai last weekend, but this weekend will be a very different story. How could it not be with the intoxicating carnival atmosphere of a sold-out Cape Town Stadium as the backdrop. If that does not inspire the Blitzboks to hit back strongly, nothing will.

Then, tomorrow night, there is another highlight on the South African soccer calendar when Orlando Pirates and Baroka clash in the Telkom knockout final at the beautiful Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

In the one corner, you have Baroka, the new kids on the block who only gained promotion to the PSL in 2016, but who have made rapid strides under the astute chairmanship of Khurishi Mphahlele. They beat Wits and Sundowns on the way to the final.

In the other corner are the fabled Buccaneers, who need no introduction as one of our glamour clubs. As Mphahlele said this week: “I want my team to be like Pirates. They are the best professional run team. I wish I can be like them.”

To take our cue from the name of the competition, either Baroka or Pirates will be knocked out and the other will dance long into the night.

Enjoy a top weekend of sport.