Under-19 World Cup 2022 – Afghanistan set to depart for the Under-19 World Cup on January 12

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The team has been stranded in Dubai, awaiting visas to fly to the Caribbean for the tournament which begins on January 14

The Afghan men’s under-19 team are “very, very excited” after being cleared to travel to the Caribbean for the World Cup, which begins on January 14.

Earlier in the week, there were doubts over Afghanistan’s participation in the 16-team tournament due to visa issues. As a result, Afghanistan’s two warm-up matches, against England on January 10 and the United Arab Emirates on January 12, have been called off.
The Afghan team arrived in Dubai on December 20 to compete in the Asian Under-19 Cup, which took place from December 23 to 31. With the UK Embassy in Kabul currently closed, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had decided that players and support staff would apply for visas from the UAE to travel to the World Cup.

However, visa uncertainty grew with the days and a scenario where Afghanistan would fail to obtain the necessary documents to travel to the World Cup was not ruled out until late on Monday, when the UK government ruled out. granted the necessary transit visas a few minutes before his consulate. closed in Dubai. The Afghan group will now take an early morning flight from Dubai to Manchester on January 12, followed by a connecting flight to the Caribbean.

“When they heard the news they were very, very excited,” Raees Ahmadzai, Afghanistan U-19 head coach, told ESPNcricinfo. “It was the best news for all these young boys. They want to do something very special at the World Cup.”

This will be Afghanistan’s seventh appearance at the Under-19 World Cup. Since their first qualification in 2010, they have done all the following editions. Their best result came in 2018 in New Zealand, where they reached the semi-finals. This is the second Under-19 World Cup for Ahmadzai as head coach – under him Afghanistan finished seventh in 2020.

Afghanistan is placed in Group C alongside Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea this time around. The top two teams from the pool advance to the quarter-finals, while the bottom two from each pool will meet in the elimination round. As it stands, Afghanistan is expected to open its campaign on January 16 against Zimbabwe in Trinidad. But with both warm-up matches canceled due to the travel delay, their biggest challenge now is the lack of any preparation as they only had “3-4 training days” after the Asian Cup.

But what is more important, according to Ahmedzai, is the fact that Afghanistan will participate in the tournament. “I will say that is good news. We will adapt there, but to be part of the World Cup is something very special for the fans, for the cricket fans in Afghanistan, for the country”, a- he declared. “It’s something very special about this kind of situation as we come back to our country because the whole younger generation is waiting and they are very excited to see Afghanistan at the World Cup. Cricket. is more than a game for us now.

“At the junior level, if this is your first time representing the country or competing in the World Cup, that’s something very special for the players. That’s why they came out of their rooms today and celebrated. in a special way [after the visa clearance]. “

Ahmadzai said the players were energized by their performance in the narrow loss to India in the Asian Cup. Afghanistan set a goal of 260 which India surpassed with four wickets in hand and eight balls to spare in a group stage match.

“They realized that if they are more focused and stay positive during the game, they can beat any team in the World Cup,” he said. “This game gave our players very good morale.”

Nagraj Gollapudi is the editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo

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