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Tanzania and Nigeria come to Kigali Rwanda as favorites though others pose challenges

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The Africa Regional T20 World Cup Qualifier for 2024 will feature seven teams and so far five teams (Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya) have booked their slots, the final regional qualifier event that starts on Dec 1–11 will confirm the final two teams that join the five teams. Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, and The Gambia will be battling over the next 10 days for two slots to advance. 

Tanzania come to Kigali with a new coach and a big reputation to protect, Jimmy Kamande is now in charge of the coastal team taking over from Steve Tikolo, and a year on they are back to the same place that gave them mixed emotions last year. Last year Tanzania blew away everyone with some quality attacking cricket in the regional qualifier going on to win without dropping a game but they were reduced to size in the finals dropping behind Uganda and Kenya but with the former grateful to them for beating Kenya.

A year on, they have made more progress with some new faces in the team and also a new coach in former Kenyan Captain Jimmy Kamande. They are 12 places ahead of Nigeria who are ranked 43 in the Global T20 World rankings but numbers count for nothing when play starts. Botswana fell behind Malawi and Rwanda who are ranked below them in the Group A qualifiers therefore the pressure will be on Tanzania to make sure they come out on top of everyone else. If it wasn’t for the Riazat Ali Show in the final of the Africa Cup they would come to Rwanda beaming with confidence but nonetheless, they come to Kigali as the team to beat. 

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Nigeria also come to Rwanda via Zimbabwe where they had their preparation camp and also come with a new coach Steve Tikolo who swapped coconut juice for pounded yam. Nigeria was at the Global qualifiers in 2019 in Dubai and then their star seemed to be rising but somehow they never managed to engage next gear as they finished last at the Africa finals in Kigali, however, the results, for now, might not be great now but they are a very confident bunch of players. Sylvester Okpe has developed his leadership skills and he will be one of their key players together with his brother Isaac. 

Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique all have an outside chance of being the party spoilers and if any of Nigeria and Tanzania slip up they will be ready to pounce and pick up the pieces. Mozambique and Ghana were both at the Africa Cup in South Africa and that experience should give them some confidence while Sierra Leone will be boosted by the return of George Ngeba as Captain.  

Eswatini and Cameroon were at the qualifiers in Kigali and it will be good to see how far both have improved a year on. The Gambia will be making their maiden appearance at the qualifiers and just like Mali, they come to Kigali for an experience. The rapid growth of the game has seen more teams feature at the qualifiers and Africa as a region gives them an opportunity to make sure they make the numbers count. 

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Denis Musali
Denis Musali
Denis is digital communications manager for Cricket Uganda and also writes for Kawowo Sports. If it isn't cricket he spends his time working on his ridesharing startup. On a Sunday he captains his club side Wanderers Cricket club as a wicket-keeper batsman.

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