Afghanistan’s U19 men’s team is “very, very excited” after being allowed to travel to the Caribbean to take part in the World Cup, which starts on 14 January.
Earlier this week, there were doubts about Afghanistan’s participation in the 16 – team tournament due to visa errors. As a result, Afghanistan’s two warm-up matches, against England on January 10 and the UAE on January 12, were canceled.
– Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) January 11, 2022
The Afghanistan squad had arrived in Dubai on December 20 to take part in the U19 Asia Cup, which took place between December 23 and 31. With the British Embassy in Kabul currently closed, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had decided that players and support staff would apply for visas in the UAE to travel to the World Cup.
The uncertainty about the visas grew as the days went by, and a scenario where Afghanistan could not get the necessary paperwork to travel to the World Cup was only ruled out late Monday, when the British government allocated the necessary transit visas minutes before the consulate. closed in Dubai. The Afghanistan group will now take a flight from Dubai early on January 12 morning to Manchester, followed by a connecting flight to the Caribbean.
“When they heard the news, they were very, very excited,” Raees Ahmadzai, Afghanistan’s U-19 head coach, told ESPNcricinfo. “It was the best news for all these young boys. They want to do something very special at the World Cup.”
This will be Afghanistan’s seventh appearance in the U19 World Cup. Since they first qualified for it in 2010, they have made every subsequent edition. Their best finish came in 2018 in New Zealand, where they reached the semifinals. This is the second U19 World Cup for Ahmadzai as head coach – under him, Afghanistan finished in seventh place in 2020.
Afghanistan is in Group C along with Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea this time. The top two teams from the pool qualify for the quarterfinals, while the bottom two from each pool compete in a playoff round. As things stand, Afghanistan is ready to open their campaign on January 16 against Zimbabwe in Trinidad. But with both warm-up matches canceled due to the travel delay, their biggest challenge now is the absence of any preparation as they only had “3-4 days of training” after the Asia Cup.
But more important, according to Ahmedzai, is the fact that Afghanistan will participate in the tournament. “I would say it’s good news. We want to adjust ourselves there, but participating in the World Cup is something very special for the fans, for the cricket lovers in Afghanistan, for the country,” he said. “It’s something very special in those kinds of situations right now back in our country, because the whole young generation they are waiting for and they are very excited to see Afghanistan in the World Cup. Cricket is more than a game for us now.
“At junior level, if you are representing the country for the first time or participating in the World Cup, it is something very special for the players. That is why they came out of their rooms today and celebrated it in a special way. [after the visa clearance]. “
Ahmadzai said the players have been boosted by their performance in the close defeat against India in the Asia Cup. Afghanistan set a goal of 260, which India surpassed with four wickets in hand and eight balls left in a group stage match.
“They realized that if they are more focused and stay positive during the match, they can beat any team in the World Cup,” he said. “That match gave very good morale to our players.”