Kenya start tedious journey to qualify for Under-19 World Cup

Yash Gohil trains at Peponi school in preparation for the ICC U19 Africa qualifiers to be held in Nigeria. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya is currently seeking redemption to regain it's 2003 status as a cricket powerhouse in Africa. 

It is on this premise that the national U-19 men's cricket team will depart today to Abuja, Nigeria to start a gruelling and tedious journey to qualify for the ICC World Cup. 

The Abuja ICC Africa World Cup Qualifiers is comprised of eight nations who will battle it out for the required three slots at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium on September 30 to October 8. 

This is the first time that Kenya will be subjected to the challenging and painful qualifiers after the country lost its One Day International (ODI) status in 2014 and a subsequent two-year suspension by the world cricket governing body, the ICC, in 2019. 

The suspension meant Kenya missed out on key international innings thereby dropping it's standards from Africa Division 1 category to Africa Division 2. 

This further translates that should Kenya top the Abuja competition, it will be subjected to another qualifiers where the Abuja finalists and third place finishers will battle Africa Division 1 opponents including Namibia, Uganda and Tanzania in March 2023, in order to book a berth for the World Cup. 

Kenya will be the first to open the Abuja contest against Ghana on Friday in the round-robin encounter. 

The country is pooled in Group A alongside Malawi and Mozambique. Group B has Sierra Leone, Botswana, Rwanda and the hosts Nigeria. 

The Kenya cricket team is captained by Vishil Patel of Ruaraka Sports Club. 

"It's my first time to guide Kenya as a skipper, I feel really honoured to carry out this duty. We hope to win all the games in Abuja," Patel told Standard Sports. 

Team Manager Kennedy Obuya is optimistic that the six months training the squad has had will help them to cruise over the Ghanaians. 

"We have had good preparations for this tournament. We are aiming for nothing but a top two finish in Nigeria," Obuya said. 

Obuya said that the players non-residential camp in Nairobi was briefly affected by the General Elections, but he is confident that his boys are in super form to floor opponents in Nigeria. 

Since Kenya do not have a youth league, the players were mostly selected from various league teams in Nairobi and Mombasa. 

"This is a completely new squad, all departments are working, what we are doing now is to have as many match practices as possible to familiarise the boys with the game situation," Obuya said. 

Obuya strongly believes Kenya will make it to the Africa Division 1 qualifiers as the country is the only force to reckon with in Abuja. 

"We used to qualify for the ICC U-19 World Cup directly, without batting a ball due to our previous ODI status. I know we will return there, but it will take us a little bit of time," he said. 

Nigeria has confirmed that adequate security had been put in place for the 50 overs tournament. 

Top two from each pool will proceed for the semis. The finalists plus third place winner will proceed for the Africa Division 1 qualifiers next year. 


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