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There are no underdogs at a World Cup

The South Africa under-19s are ready for their first appearance in the ICC U19 World Cup at Lincoln Green Oval in Christchurch tomorrow says assistant coach Wandile Gwavu.

The youngsters will take on Kenya at 10:30 local time and aim to make a strong start to the competition.

Gwavu believes that a win in their opening fixture will be a good confidence booster and will give the team good momentum ahead of their subsequent Group A matches against defending champions, West Indies and hosts, New Zealand in Tauranga, but first, all of the team’s focus is solely on the first game.

“We are one hundred percent ready,” he said. “It’s just a little unfortunate that we spent the past two days indoors (because of rain), but everything happens for a reason and we got a bit of a rest, but looking ahead to the first match, we are ready and we’re really excited for it.”

Kenya, as one of the associate nations who qualified to take part in this year’s tournament are considered to be the underdogs in tomorrow’s match, but Gwavu wants his players to stay away from labelling other teams and indeed themselves with “underdog” and “favourites” tags,

“This is a World Cup,” he continued. “According to my beliefs, there are no underdogs and there are no favourites. We are going in there to focus on what we’ve been doing. We’ve prepared very well and we’re going there to execute what we’ve prepared.”

South Africa’s next two fixtures will be challenging encounters at the Bay Oval and Gwavu wants to see the players set the tone and announce themselves into the tournament with a convincing performance.

“It’s a very interesting group, we don’t look at Kenya as a small team, but we always talk about momentum,” he went on. “Going into tomorrow’s game we definitely want to win it and get as much as we can out of it. We’re not looking too far ahead of ourselves, we want to take this one game at a time.”

The coach is satisfied that the team has done enough preparation and that the time has come to put all of their plans into action. Previous tours against West Indies and their recently won triangular series against England and Namibia played an important role in preparing the them for the tournament proper.

“Like I’ve said before, the groundwork is done, we expect them to go out there and express themselves, execute their skills and more than anything else, play with a lot of aggression. We are not going to hold anything back.”