Nigeria’s U-19 cricket team targets World Cup qualification

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The national under-19 cricket team will on Aug. 17 alongside 10 other teams begin the quest for qualification for the ICC U-19 World Cup to be hosted in Australia in 2019.

The team will first battle it out from division two for qualification into division one, and eventually pick a spot for the World Cup.

The qualification tournament runs till Aug. 29 at Potchefstroom in South Africa, with only three qualifying tickets available.

Musa Ehizoje, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), said the team had began preparations for the tournament with the first phase camping earlier this year.

“Twenty-seven players were picked in Benin City from the pool of 40 for the second phase camp which took place in Kaduna in April.

“In June, the 27 players selected resumed for the third phase of camping in Kaduna.

“And, after a series of trial matches, a final list of 14 players was selected to represent the country,’’ he said in a statement released in Abuja.

Ehizoje disclosed further that the team left Nigeria on Monday to continue their preparations with a pre-tournament tour of Uganda.

“The team is being led once again by Sylvester Okpe, to be assisted by Runsewe Suleiman.

“It is expected to play five friendly matches against the Ugandan Under-19 and Under-23 sides, with four games to be played in Lugogo Cricket oval and one game in Kyambogo.

“All these friendly matches will be 50 overs.

“The first two friendly matches are billed for Wednesday and Thursday in Lugogo, before they face the national under-23 side on Saturday in Kyambogo.

“The final two friendly matches will be played on Tuesday and Aug. 16 in Lugogo, before they leave Kampala for Protchefstroom on Aug. 17 for the tournament proper,’’ he said.

The NCF PRO said further that Nigeria have been drawn in Group  B of the tournament with Ghana, Mozambique, Lesotho and The Gambia.

Nigeria will play their opening game of the tournament on Aug. 19 against Ghana before engaging Mozambique on Aug. 22.

They face Lesotho on Aug. 23 and play their final group game against The Gambia the following day.

Two teams are to qualify for the semi-finals from each group at the tournament.