SYDNEY - South Africa captain AB de Villiers insisted his side will not choke when they try to end their World Cup knockout misery in a Sydney quarter-final with Sri Lanka on Wednesday. The Proteas have never won a World Cup knockout match since their tournament debut in 1992, with a series of near-misses leaving them with the unwanted tag of "chokers".

But for de Villiers, history really is all in the past. "All I can say is we're not going to choke tomorrow. We're going to play a good game of cricket and come out on top. Simple," he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday. "How do we approach it? We think we've just got to try and play a good game of cricket," the in-form batsman, whose last appearance at the SCG saw him score a stunning 162 not out against the West Indies in the pool stage. "I think it's important to focus on what we've been doing well and try and do that tomorrow. We have certain strengths we like to focus on and not focus too much on the opposition. We've got to (keep things) as simple as possible. Strike with the new ball, try and bowl them out, if we bat first get a big total and put them under pressure."

South Africa, like Sri Lanka, won four and lost two of their pool matches, with the Proteas beaten by 130 runs by defending champions India and going down by 29 runs to Pakistan. "I don't believe we've been awful, I feel we've had had a pretty decent tournament so far, finished second in the log (Pool)," said de Villiers. "We had a tough game against India, where things could have been different, I believe.”

South Africa, often accused of being excessively tense in big games, didn't train on Tuesday. "I just felt it was important not to focus too much on cricket today, sort of get the brain switched off a little bit before the big clash," said de Villiers. "It's important for us to be fresh. I believe we play really good cricket when we're mentally fresh, and we play those pressure situations so much better."

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews hopes his side can feed off yet more passionate support from their fans come in quarter-final against South Africa. When Sri Lanka played tournament co-hosts Australia at the SCG during the pool stages, the vast number of supporters from local expatriate communities, as well as travelling fans, generated so much noise and colour it made the match seem like a home game for the Islanders.

"If you play at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) or SCG it's like playing at home," Mathews told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday. "Most of the Sri Lankans across Australia or across the world, they fly into Sydney with immense support for us, and we really enjoy playing in Sydney. We've been getting tremendous support wherever we played."

Mathews said the key was to remain positive and not be overwhelmed by the fear of failure -- a criticism that has been levelled against South Africa. "I think that when you come to the knockout stages most of the things, most of the teams will think that you can't afford to do mistakes or you'll be out of the tournament. That kind of attitude is hard to get rid of. You have to play good cricket back ourselves and go out there and enjoy ourselves."

Should Sri Lanka lose on Wednesday it promises to be the last one-day international for batting greats Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. "We've seen Kumar Sangakkara hitting four centuries in a row, and I hope and pray he gets the fifth one tomorrow, while Mahela is a big-match player," said Mathews. "So hopefully we can win, go into the semis again, the final and win to make it an historic tournament for two legends."

But South Africa have an in-form batsman of their own in skipper AB de Villiers. "We all know he's a destructive player," said Mathews. "When he gets going, it's really hard to stop him. So we'll look to attack him early on." Sri Lanka remain uncertain over the fitness of Rangana Herath.

"He's still fifty-fifty," said Mathews. "He hasn't had a bowl yet. The physio has to have a look at him once again today. If he bowls at practice today he'll be in contention for selection. If not, he won't be playing."