President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation Uyi Akpta says the country has made tremendous progress at the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup African qualifiers in Namibia despite missing out on the tickets to play in the USA and West Indies next year, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Nigeria’s men’s national team, the Yellow-Greens bowed to the superior power of Zimbabwe, the only test-playing nation at the qualifiers by six wickets on Wednesday, leaving them fifth in the seven-nation tournament.
Former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, watched the game in Windhoek in the company of Akpata, some other members of the NCF board and officials of the federation.
Ambode has been an admirer of the game having played in his days at Federal Government College, Ughelli.
The Yellow Greens, who batted first, posted 110 for the loss of eight wickets in 20 overs while Zimbabwe made the required 111 runs for the loss of four wickets with 36 balls remaining.
“Through our participation, we have announced our arrival as a cricket-playing nation. We competed squarely against Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe and lost respectfully. We beat Tanzania, who were ahead of us and we were firmly in control of the Rwanda match before rain disrupted it and caused us to share points,” Akpata said.
The president added that the outcome of the World Cup qualifier does not diminish Nigeria’s global cricketing image, rather it has advertised Nigeria’s developmental effort to the top cricketing countries across the continent.
“Our young team is beginning to get global recognition, including Prosper Useni, Ridwan Abdulkareen, and the commanding show of Joshua Asia during our game against Zimbabwe. I am sure none of these teams will take us for granted again. Remember too, that our goal is to be at the World Cup in 2026, so we are well on the way to realizing that.”
With only pride left to play for, Nigeria look set to finish off the event in fifth place despite a Namibian encounter left on the cards. The host team has played unblemished, winning five out of five, and is the only country assured of a World Cup ticket so far, leaving Zimbabwe and Uganda till the last game to fight for the second spot.