Dar es Salaam. The stage looks set for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa U-19 World Cup Qualifiers Division One that will start here on Saturday.
The tournament was earlier planned for Namibia, but the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) changed the host nation a fortnight ago for technical reasons.
The qualifiers, which will be played at the Annadil Burhani, University of Dar es Salaam and Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club grounds, will involve six nations, namely: Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria and hosts Tanzania.
Being the host nation, Tanzania will be hard-pressed to finish on top even as Kenya and Uganda pose a genuine threat to their chances.
Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA) official, Kazim Nasser, said the boys were in the positive frame of mind heading into the qualifiers.
“The team is faring quite well in training and the players have promised to fight their hearts out to qualify for the World Cup,” he said.
“The ACA has yet to release the fixtures, but we are aware of the threats posed by the likes of Kenya and Uganda who are among the leading sides in Africa. However, our boys have what it takes to win one of the top positions.”
Nasser said the participating teams from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Botswana will start arriving today for the tournament.
He said: “We have finalised all preparations needed for the qualifiers and we hope that the team will start jetting in on Thursday (today).”
“We have struck a deal with Azam TV, all matches will be beamed live and the winner of this tournament will secure an automatic qualification to the World Cup.”
He said the World Cup finals will be held in Bangladesh next year with South Africa participating as the defending champions.
“We have to seize this opportunity of playing on home soil. We have produced spectacular performances abroad, so it is our belief that the lads’ will and determination will see Tanzania through to the World Cup,” he added.
Tanzania booked a place in the Division 1 tournament after winning the ICC-Africa Division 2 event, which was held in Lusaka, Zambia last year.
Hamisi Abdallah, the national U19 team coach, exuded confidence that Tanzania has a chance of winning the tournament and sail through to the Bangladesh finals.
“The players are ready to exploit the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, basing on the fact that they will be playing at home.
“They have a fair experience in international matches, so I have a good feeling that Tanzania will qualify for the 2016 finals,” said Abdallah.
The team was in Nairobi, Kenya, last month for a series of trial matches to shape up for the qualifiers.
Some of the players in the team are Arshaan Jessani, Salum Jumbe, Goodluck Andrew, Martin Kavoli, Rashid Awadh, Lazaro Festo, Salman Nasser, Raahil Krishna, Harsheel Anand, Juma Mohamed, Shafii Muharam, Rijali Fentu, Jamal Hassan, Umang Somani, Hamisi Saidi and John David.