Nigeria surprised everyone–apart from themselves–when they qualified for the U19 World Cup early last year. Despite competing in a tournament that had three nations that have been to the World Cup before including the likes Namibia, Kenya and Uganda, Nigeria rode their luck winning all their games to pick up the single slot to the World Cup on offer at the African qualifier.
The Junior Yellow Greens will not be the only newcomers at the World Cup with Japan giving them company. This will be a big moment for cricket in Nigeria as they carry the flag for the emerging cricket nations of Africa. With populations numbers on their side Nigeria just needed a big moment to help their progression in development.
In 2019 they had not just one but two great moments; the U19s qualifying for the World Cup, and then later in the year, the men’s side were late inclusions for the T20 World Cup qualifiers in the UAE.
However, the World Cup will definitely spur on the next generation of Nigerian cricketers. The chosen 14 for Nigeria for the World Cup are largely the players that brought pride to the nation in Namibia with only three players development players slotted into the side.
The 14 players have spent a month training in South Africa ahead of the World Cup for an enhanced program in October. In December, a team of 18 returned to South Africa to continue with the preparations.
Nigeria has been drawn in Group B with cricket royalty England, West Indies and Australia; the Junior Yellow Greens will be facing future Test players in a moment that will stay with them forever.
Richson Tetteh from the Nigerian Cricket Association believes this is a huge opportunity for Nigeria Cricket.
“The team must have been learning a lot from the weeks of training, friendly and pre-tournament matches to the World Cup proper. Most importantly we would be hoping that at the end of our tournament the team, crew and Nigerian Cricket would have our heads up high,” he told Emerging Cricket.
“This opportunity means a whole lot as everyone now believes strongly that there is a future for cricket and cricketers in Nigeria. Also (while taking into account) the involvement of the National Team at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in UAE.”
The 2020 Under 19 Cricket World Cup will be a moment for the Nigerian youngsters to savour, and they will know the carry the hopes of over 200 million people back at home as well as the backing of the whole continent.
Round matches: (all 8am GMT): Mon 20th January v Australia, Thu 23th January v West Indies, Sat 25th January v England.