Gauteng coach Sandile Masengemi believes his team has the character required to win the Africa T20 Cup as they prepare for the finals weekend at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Sunday and Monday.
The Johannesburg side play KwaZulu-Natal Inland in the first-semi-final on Heritage Day, with the winner to play against either Namibia or the Free State, who meet in the second semi, for the 2017 title.
“It’s going to be a tough one because KZN have a very good team,” Masengemi said. “I know Shane (Burger) the coach because I use to play with him and he’s been doing great work with the KZN Inland side.
“So it’s going to be a big challenge, but the way the guys played in the group stage gives me a lot of confidence and hope.”
Gauteng reached the play-offs after topping a tough Pool B. Their progress was made all the more impressive after they lost their opening match to defending champions Eastern Province and they then went on to win their next two matches, against Northerns and North West, with bonus points.
“We were in a tough group, it was the group of death, but we managed to come through,” Masengemi adds. “There was a lot of character shown from the boys to come back the way they did after losing that first game and then getting two bonus-point wins.
“But now we need to start from scratch again, do the basics right and make sure we pitch up against KZN.”
KZNI coach Burger saw his side pull through from a rain-hit Pool D, which they topped ahead of Border, Boland and Zimbabwe thanks to twin wins and one no-result.
The men from Pietermaritzburg are the only side out of the four qualifiers with final experience after ending runners-up in the inaugural edition back in 2015.
The coach is hoping conditions in the Northern Cape will assist them.
“The Kimberley wicket is normally a really good one with a bit more pace in it than East London, which could suit our batsmen a bit more,” he said.
“We are used to preparing on tricky surfaces in Maritzburg so the boys are always grateful to get on to quicker pitches.”
The start times for the two semis on Sunday are 09h30 and 13h00, with the final on Monday to be played at 10h00.