Highveld Lions, Warriors ready for T20 final showdown

Enoch Nkwe (Gallo Images)
Enoch Nkwe (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Highveld Lions coach Enoch Nkwe says their achievements this season will count for little when they take on the Warriors in the CSA T20 Challenge final at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The two teams draw the curtain on the 2018/19 franchise season with one revelling in the new beginnings brought by a new coach and the other reflecting on another campaign where they promised so much but has left them silverware-less with a game to play.

Nkwe has been the man behind the revival at the Gauteng side, having already guided them to the 4-Day Domestic Series crown.

Since his appointment as the top coach at the Wanderers at the start of the term, the union have also won the Africa T20 Cup, while Nkwe was at the helm for the Jozi Stars as they claimed the inaugural Mzansi Super League title.

Now he is bidding to guide the Lions to a domestic double, saying the 20-over crown will be just reward for his players after a season of hard work.

"We as a team, we do understand where we come from and what we've achieved," he stated. "We never take anything lightly or for granted.

"We know this is going to be hard work, as the others have been. We're going to work hard to ensure we finish off the season well. Hopefully it works out that way because I strongly believe the guys deserve to end the season on a high."

However, Nkwe understands that his side is up against one of the strongest white-ball teams in the country - a team that has punched well above their weight for a few seasons now and continued that trend in Rivash Gobind's first full season in charge.

"The Warriors have been consistent performers in recent years and they've shown that again in this competition," Nkwe, whose side overcame the Dolphins in the semi-finals, added. "They gave us a serious hiding at the Wanderers not so long ago when they played really good cricket and we saw them against the Cobras in the semi-final how they responded to a difficult situation or two.

"We know it's going to be a really tough game. We totally respect them as a unit, they have good experience and we know they'll be wanting to end the season with some silverware."

For Warriors boss Gobind, the final is one made of dreams - at the Bullring, one of the world’s premier sporting venues, in a deciding match and against the best side in the country.

"It's obviously a very nice occasion, a final at the Wanderers is something that everyone dreams of," he said. "You watch it on TV and World Cup finals have been played there.

"For us to have an opportunity to play there is really special and we're looking forward to it... every single one of us."

Gobind's side drew plenty of praise after a fighting display took them past the Cobras in their semi this week.

Now they are up against a Lions side that has undoubtedly grown to become the best in the country over the past eight months.

"They have showed that they're the form team of the summer," the Warriors boss concluded. "They've competed on all fronts, they've won trophies, they have players in the national team and they've got guys going to the World Cup as well, so it's going to be a fantastic encounter and we're excited about it.

"There's two good teams playing and let's hope the quality of cricket lives up to that."

Play starts on Sunday is at 14:30.

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