NCF tips Nigeria for glory as team depart for South Africa
The national U-19 cricket team departed Nigeria yesterday for South Africa ahead of the 2020 U-19 World Cup slated to hold from January 17 to February 9. Prior to leaving for South Africa, the team, made up of 18 players and two officials, were treated to a farewell reception by the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) at the TBS Lagos.
For being the first cricket national team to play at the World Cup in any level, the NCF assured Nigerians that they had been given adequate preparation to excel at the championship. The team, according to the NCF, are traveling early for the World Cup to acclimatise to the weather condition of host South Africa and also train in a high condition facility before the event begins next year. Speaking at the presentation and farewell ceremony organised for the cricket team, NCF Vice President, Uyi Akpata said the federation decided to organise the ceremony to appreciate the players as worthy ambassadors of the country.
“I am delighted that the Minister for Youth and Sports had also received the players and assured on the government support. “Qualifying for the World Cup was not an easy feat for the team, but we thank God that Nigeria is presenting a cricket team for the World Cup for the first time.
“While in South Africa, the team will play a series of tune up games. Based on our achievements so far in cricket, Nigeria has been classified as the fastest developing team in Africa. We also narrowly missed being the best developing country in cricket at the world level to Ireland during the last ICC ranking.
“The NCF will redouble its effort to develop cricket to the highest level,” he said.Captain of the U-19 cricket team, Sylvester Okpe assured that his team will do their best at the World Cup.“Spending 5O days preparing ahead of the World Cup is a good preparation for the team. We traveled to UAE for a playing tour before travelling to South Africa.“Cricket is a team event and we are not scared of any country. Every game will be approached according to the strength of our opponents,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, coach of the cricket U-19 team, Uthe Ogbimi noted that his boys were competing in the World Cup for victory.“The Nigerian players are not pushovers. They will not face any form of intimidation in South Africa by any opponent.
“The players have been well kitted and exposed to the best coaches in the world over time as they participated in different championships. So, there is nothing other teams at the World Cup have been exposed to that is new to the Nigerian players.
“I thank the NCF for the assistance giving to the team. Camping in a high performance centre in South Africa will go a long way to keep the boys in good shape,” he said.At the World Cup, Nigeria compete against England, Australia and West Indians in the group stage.Nigeria qualified for the 2020 World Cup in South Africa after winning the 2019 African Division One qualifier.