Nigeria’s under-18 cricket national team, Junior Yellow Greens are putting finishing touches to their plans to unleash surprises on other competing squads at this year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, which is billed to run from January 17 to February 9 in South Africa.
Megasportsarena.com reports that Coach Sylvester Okpe’s side will become the 31st team to compete since the competition’s inaugural edition in 1988, when they face Australia at Country Club B Field on January 20, with all the pool’s games set to take place at Kimberley.
West Indies will then face Nigeria on January 23, before Okpe’s wards round off the opening stage against England at Diamond Oval, prior to which the opening match at the same venue will see two former champions face off, as Australia take The Yellow Greens’ second opponents.
Australia, which happens to be the winners of the Youth Cricket World Cup more than 30 years ago, took the honour of becoming the first double champion when the country prevailed at New Zealand 2002, eight years after which they were winners again – also in New Zealand – while they head to South Africa with a score to settle after finishing runners-up back in 2018.
Speaking of plans for the team, before the competition tees off this Friday in The Rainbow Nation, national development manager (South) of Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), Tonye Timinadi declared that the players will go all out to prove bookmakers wrong.
He disclosed further that The Junior Yellow Greens will play warm-up matches against Pakistan and South Africa before they begin their world cup campaign against Australia on January 20, ahead of which Timinadi called on the technical crew to improve on their tactics especially on the bating department of the team before the start of the competition.
He described the championship as an avenue for Nigerian players to showcase themselves as well as get opportunities to be spotted by scouts and agents of universities for scholarships, while also adding that he holds a view that determined attitude from the lads will help them pull off surprises against three former champions, Australia, England and West Indies.
Timinadi said: “We are in a group of death but we are expecting the team to pull out surprises. Though this is our first appearance in the World Cup, we believe in the boys because they are record breakers and they want to make Nigerians proud in South Africa.
“Some people say that the ICC put us in a group, that we cannot qualify because of all the opponents in the group like Australia who are three-time world champions, England, two-time champions in the U-19 category and West Indies also two-time champions. But we are hopeful that the young lads will prove bookmakers wrong and perform beyond expectation.
“The world will be looking at Nigeria and Japan who are making their debut at the World Cup, which is good for the players to unleash their talents to the cricket world, because some scouts and universities who give scholarships to the young stars will be on ground to watch them play.”