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October 29, 2008
Self-belief and mental toughness will be crucial to Namibia's success in the Intercontinental Cup final, according to their coach Johan Rudolph, but they face a fiercely determined and proud Ireland side desperate to retain the title. The two teams meet tomorrow in the final of the Associates' biggest tournament at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth.
"I honestly believe it's a 99.9% mental thing now at this stage," Rudolph said. "You can only coach up to a point and the key thing for me is that the guys need to buy into what we are trying to achieve … How much do they want it? They need to believe they can beat Ireland. I really believe we are at that level, we are definitely not a Division 2 side and we belong in the same league as Ireland.
"It was good to see Louis Klasinga, Kola Burger and Gerrie Snyman get selected for the team of the tournament. It demonstrates the quality we have. Those guys have been great for us this year. But we do not just rely on them. Sorel Burger has been a rock for us - he is our banker - and the whole team is contributing.
"Ireland have a really professional set-up and we still need to get there. As far as the threat they pose to us in this match, they have a couple of good bowlers. I don't really know what this pitch is going to do at St George's Park but Boyd Rankin bowled brilliantly against us in the second innings in Windhoek a few weeks ago. He got a lot of bounce."
Ireland's recent tour to Kenya was savaged by the weather. Although they managed to play their Intercontinental Cup match and progress to the final, their tri-series against Kenya and Zimbabwe was a complete washout.
And on Wednesday, just as coach Phil Simmons wanted to put his charges through their paces in preparation, rain and a chilly wind spread through Port Elizabeth to restrict their session. It was more Stormont than South Africa.
"The weather hasn't given us a good chance to prepare but we will do as much as we can do," Simmons said. "Today is just about getting sharp and making sure we are in the frame of mind for tomorrow's game. Namibia's danger for us is in their bowling. That is definitely their strength. If we can bat as we did in Kenya I think we'll have things covered. Our bowling attack is getting into things, hitting the right areas and our two spinners have bowled well so we just need to counter their bowling attack and we'll be on our way.
"To win this tournament again would show that we are still the No. 1 among the Associates in four-day cricket. That's what the guys want to show after this. We are defending this trophy. It's ours and we don't want to let it go. That was the main motivation in our last two games against Namibia and Kenya in getting to this final and so that will be the motivation here too."
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