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April 18, 2009
Ireland can further reinforce their claim to being the leading Associate nation if they secure the ICC World Cup Qualifier trophy in the final against Canada, at Centurion Park, on Sunday.
With World Cup qualification safety in the bag after their top-place finish in the Super Eights, Ireland coach Phil Simmons said the team now need one final push to go home with the silverware which has always been the primary goal.
"We didn't come here to qualify - we came here to win a tournament and that's still on. Sunday is our final and that's what we're here for - to win," he said. "The players are enjoying playing this tournament and winning and I think that's the whole thing. At the beginning of the tournament that's what we spoke about - not qualification, but winning the trophy."
Ireland have dominated the Intercontinental Cup, the four-day tournament for Associate teams, in recent years with a hat-trick of titles but have never claimed this title which is something Simmons is keen to put right.
"We hadn't qualified outside of Ireland but we've broken one hoodoo so we are on to the next one now," he said. "Every day is a different day. We just have to come along on Sunday and perform our basics and our duties as best we can. If it's a case of Canada playing better than us then we are beaten but so far we have done well and we are going to come back and do our best in the final."
It is been a largely impressive tournament from Ireland barring their shock defeat to Afghanistan during the Super Eights. They also came unstuck against Kenya in the final round of matches, but by then they were assured of their World Cup place while Kenya had the motivation of needing to cement their own progression.
Ireland's strong batting line-up has served them well during the three weeks with captain William Porterfield passing 400 runs and Kevin O'Brien averaging 147.50. The bowling has been well led by tall quick Boyd Rankin who has 13 wickets, while left-armer Regan West is their top wicket-taker with 14 scalps.
Their opponents, Canada, have managed to overcome the loss of key batsman John Davison with injury but ended the Super Eights stage with two defeats. They also lost their previous outing against Ireland by six wickets but captain, Ashish Bagai, is confident is team have enough fuel left in the tank for one more big performance.
"This is what we are here for," he said. "Gaining qualification for the World Cup was great but that is in the bag now. It's not every day you get to play in a major final and we want to win it.
"It has been a long and tiring few weeks so we have taken the day before the final off both physically and mentally and then we will come back strong on Sunday."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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