By Sharon Ekhiwere
The Nigerian Cricket Federation (NCF) on Friday released the final squad list of the national under-19 men’s team ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Under-19 World Cup Africa division one qualifier set to take place in Tanzania.
In a statement released by the NCF, through her Public relations officer, Mr Musa Ehizoje Bodie on Friday evening, the federation announced that the final 14-man squad that will be flying the country’s colours in Dar’ es Salam, the Capital of Tanzania have been announced. He also stated that players have been engaging in a series of preparations for months now, starting from the open camp in Abuja which lasted for 3 weeks before the end of the year 2022. The players were allowed to represent their various clubs during the 2022/2023 cricket season and returned in March for another camp which lasted for 2 weeks.
Taking a cue from the last success during the 2019 qualification process where Nigeria toured a series of countries, the board of the Federation also decided to upscale the preparations by engaging the team with a pre-tournament tour in India. The Omtex ICWC Training institution was home for the Junior Yellow Greens for 3 weeks where they trained and played a series of matches in preparation for the qualifier. The team returned from the tour on the 10th of June and the players were given a 10 days break before resuming their last local camping in Benin City.
According to the Secretary General of the Federation Mr. Taiwo Oriss, in his remarks before the team’s departure; ‘’All modalities have been put in place to ensure that the players are fully concentrated on achieving the basic minimum of qualifying for the ICC U-19 Men’s World Cup scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka in 2024, The Board of the Federation led by Mr. Uyi Akpata have also provided all technical support and huge investments into preparations and we are very optimistic that the boys will do the country proud’’, he said.
The team will be led by long-standing Captain Ridwan Abdulkareem, supported by the talented Prosper Useni. Others include Chiemelie Udekwe, Izuchukwu Okeke, Selim Salau, Joshua Asia, Joshua Sunday, Paul Pam, Chijioke Okeke and Solomon Chilemayan, David Abiebhode, Victor Samuel, Chidi Owunbualili and Kareem Gafar. Chidi Owunbualili will make his debut for the team after being reserved over the last few months, working hard and making his way into the team deservingly so.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will continue preparations for the tournament in Kigali, Rwanda where they are expected to play a series of friendly matches and also have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the East African weather conditions. The Junior Yellow Greens left the shores of the country for Kigali on the 13th of July and will make their official arrival for the qualifier on the 21st of July. Other countries competing for the 1 slot ticket in this tournament are Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sierra Leone.