Wellington - Being told not to return home as "losers" by their country's sports
minister merely reflects the passionate desire of all South Africans for
a maiden Cricket World Cup triumph, captain AB de Villiers said on Saturday.
Mbalula created a stir earlier this week when he said at the team's
official departure that South Africa did not want them to be at the
World Cup "to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers".
our country of South Africa expect a lot from our sports people, and
we're expected to come here and win the tournament," de Villiers said at
a pre-World Cup media conference in Christchurch.
that, and obviously there's pressure that comes with comments like that,
but we don't mind that. We're here to win.
"Obviously, we all
looked at each other, and we're like, 'ooh, here we go'. But in saying
that, we understand the kind of pressure that's on us and we want to
take the trophy back home."
The pressure on South Africa has grown
with each global showpiece since their first in 1992 and their failure
to land a title has earned them the tag of 'chokers'.
from the semi-final at the 1999 World Cup when Herschelle Gibbs
prematurely celebrated a catch and was judged not to have control of the
ball, allowing Australia captain Steve Waugh to score 120 not out and
win the game for his side.
At the 2003 tournament they hosted,
they failed to make it out of their pool after rain affected their final
match against Sri Lanka with television footage of a distraught captain
Shaun Pollock underlining their despair.
De Villier's side enter
the 2015 edition as one of the favourites along with co-hosts Australia
but the 30-year-old said he did not place too much stock in those
"I've never been a big fan of building that up too
much," he said. "We've been the favourites before in the tournament. It
didn't work out for us.
"Then we went to another tournament. We weren't the favourites, didn't work out for us.
not really sure if it's a title that deserves a lot of time and a lot
of talking about, but look, obviously the Aussies are the number one in
the world at the moment in the shorter format.
"But we're certainly one of the favourites. There's no hiding from that fact."