Johannesburg - Coach Dave Nosworthy went out of his way on Wednesday to assure Highveld Lions fans that his team are not satisfied with merely qualifying for the Champions League; instead, there is a great hunger in the side to win Sunday's MiWay T20 Challenge final against the Titans at the Wanderers.
The Lions topped the round-robin log to qualify for the lucrative Champions League for the second time in three seasons, but Nosworthy said this time they are determined to go one better and win the final. In 2009/10, the Lions were hammered by 82 runs by the Warriors in the final.
"We've learnt a lesson from the previous season we qualified for the Champions League, when we rode the honeymoon for too long. Two years ago at St George's Park, it was a big honeymoon for us and we relaxed mentally. There's a totally different vibe in the side now and the most important thing for them is the final. The Champions League is great, but the guys are desperate to get over the line on Sunday and will be right up for the game," Nosworthy said at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
The Lions have not played a full match in the last fortnight, bad weather causing both their games against the Dolphins and the Impi to be abandoned, but the loss of momentum has been partially offset by the opportunity to refocus after the joy of qualifying in first place.
"The emotions have been allowed to come off that massive high and we were out in the middle yesterday, regaining any lost momentum with a middle practice where we set different scenarios. So our preparations are on track," Nosworthy said.
Nosworthy managed to arrest the decline in confidence in the side after a miserable 1-Day Cup campaign at the end of last year in which the Lions finished bottom of the log after winning just two of their 10 games.
"There's a lot of belief in the side and a balance between the experienced players who have won stuff before and the exuberance of youth. The team chemistry has been one of the key things and when games have gone down to the wire, we've had that belief. We've stuck to our game plans and kept to our good habits," Nosworthy said.
The former Titans coach confirmed that he will definitely be making use of the services of Alviro Petersen, who returned from New Zealand with the national team on Wednesday afternoon. While the opening batsman is obviously in form and is a proven limited-overs performer, there is always the risk of disruption to the side, especially since Petersen has been in Test-match mode for the last three weeks.
"Alviro will come straight back into the team as captain. He was here for the first four matches and the issues are more if you change four or five players, which changes the whole dynamic. But through this season, Alviro has been more with us than anywhere else and everyone's more than comfortable with him coming back.
"The players all know his plans and the relationship between him and Thami Tsolekile [the previous captain] is crucial. It is brilliant, they are good mates, so Alviro comes back, he has always been part of us," Nosworthy said.