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Africa T20 Cup: Underdogs North West look to spring Pool B upset

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North West coach Monty Jacobs admits his side will be the big underdogs to progress from Pool B of the Africa T20 Cup, but he is quietly confident as they prepare to face Northerns in their opening game at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.

After reaching the semi-finals last year, Jacobs’ men are hosting a pool this time around, but they know that they will not be the most fancied of the foursome, completed by Eastern Province and Gauteng, to top their group. 

“Obviously it’s a tough group and there’s no doubt we’re the underdogs,” the coach said. “We’re just going to take each game as it comes and let the processes take their course.

“We’ll try and get the guys to relax and play good cricket. But there’s no doubt it’s a tough pool. The reality is that if you want to win the Africa T20 Cup, you have to win five in a row. So let’s see what happens with the first game on Friday.”

Jacobs admits the memories are good from last year, but now wants his players to look ahead - and possibly follow the same path as 12 months ago.

“We were so unlucky because we ended up losing in a super over last year,” he added. “But that’s history now. We have a bit of a different squad this time. Some of the more senior guys are gone, so hopefully the younger ones will step up.

“We’re also at home, so hopefully some fans can come in and get behind us.”

His opposite number JP Triegaardt, whose side won the inaugural title in 2015, does not count North West as underdogs. He sees them as one of the danger sides in the pool. “They may not be one of the bigger unions, but if you put their team on paper, it’s a really good one, so we’ll have to be watchful,” he countered.

Triegaardt has nonetheless welcomed the opportunity of facing stiff competition, which he feels will help bring the best out of his players.

“I think that a strong group is a good thing because there’s no room for complacency,” he added.

“You have to get out of the blocks well right from the start and it’s not a group where you can feel the waters so to speak. You need to play well from the start.

“So I'm looking forward to it. I think we’re well prepared. The boys have put in a lot of hard work and we can’t wait to get going.”

The start times for Friday are 12h45 and 16h30, while the matches on Saturday and Sunday begin at 09h30 and 13h00. The weekend matches will be televised on SuperSport.

North West squad: Bjorn Fortuin, Wihan Lubbe, Aya Myoli, Janneman Malan, Andre Malan, Marques Ackerman, Brady Barends, Kagiso Rapulana, Johannes Diseko, Ruan Haasbroek, Craig Alexander, Jovaun Van Wyngaardt, Lesego Senokwane.

Northerns squad: Thomas Kaber, Migael Pretorius, Lerato Kgoatle, Gregory Mahlokwana, Roger Arendse, Ruben Claassen, Ruben Herman, Luvuyo Nkese, Andrea Agathagelou, Corbin Bosch, Tony De Zorzi, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Jiveshan Pillay.