The South Africa under-19s are set to fight the battle of their lives when they take on Pakistan in the final of the 2014 ICC U19 World Cup in Dubai on Saturday. South Africa have yet to win an U19 World Cup, despite featuring in two finals in 2002 and 2008, while Pakistan have two titles under their belt.
"The past is not something that's big on our minds," said Protea skipper Aiden Markram. "We want to make history, yes, but we want to play tomorrow's game with the same cool and level headedness we have applied in all the others.
"It's a great honour for us to be here and to play in the final. This is what we have all dreamed of for years and to be within touching distance of the ultimate dream means more to the team than I can say. We will definitely go into the match with ruthless intent," he said.
South Africa are the only undefeated side in the tournament. Coach, Ray Jennings is pleased with the manner in which his side have conducted themselves so far, both on and off the field. "The tournament so far has been good," Jennings said. "What has excited me the most is that each game has been a team effort and the spirit amongst the whole squad is strong and based around respect, pride and genuine care for each other. Every player is contributing, irrespective of whether he is carrying drinks or on the field."
Speaking after the semi-final against Australia, he said: "The performance in the semis was another step in the move towards a seamless, clinical approach to 100 balls of a match. The effort and intensity of each player are at good levels, however, we will need to approach our next game with absolute maximum commitment, energy and ruthlessness."
Jennings is wary of Pakistan and their ability to pull off famous wins at critical times.
"In order to beat Pakistan, we will need to be at our best, we will need to show intent and will need to focus on the game and not the hype of the players or the crowd. It will be an ultimate test of our concentration and big match temperament. We are working towards peaking at the right time and have the opportunity to make history," he concluded.
Pakistan will not be short on confidence after scoring a thrilling win against England in the semifinals. Zafar Gohar and Amad Butt put on 63 runs for the unfinished eighth wicket as Pakistan defeated England by three wickets in a low-scoring contest to reach their fifth World Cup final on Monday.
Zafar, later adjudged man of the match, scored a priceless 37 not out and Amad chipped in with an invaluable 26 not out as Pakistan returned from 142 for seven in pursuit of a 205-run target to achieve a memorable victory with five balls to spare. Pakistan, winner in 2004 and 2006, had needed 36 from the last five overs, then 12 runs off 12 balls and finally four runs off the last over.