Having won their latest ICC World Cricket League qualifying round, Afghanistan now stand on the verge of qualifying for the biggest prize of all: a place in the next World Cup. "We're not there yet, but once we reach the World Cup I am sure we could give the other teams a good match," says Afghanistan's captain Nowroz Mangal.
Winning the World Cricket League Division 3 event in Argentina continues Afghanistan's remarkable success in their World Cup 2011 qualifying campaign. Having won Division 5 in Jersey last May and then Division 4 in October and now Division 3, against progressively tougher opposition Afghanistan are emerging as a battle hardened-group of skilled competitors. "They are still raw in many ways but they are getting better all the time at a great rate," says their coach former Pakistan international Kabir Khan, who has been with them since September 2008.
Afghanistan now move forward to World Cricket League Division 1 in South Africa in April where they join Oman and the UAE as Asia's World Cup 2011 contenders. A top four finish out of the twelve countries competing means a place in the World Cup to be held jointly by Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. "We have won matches in so many different countries, if we do get to the World Cup we will be playing at somewhere like home and we will do even better," says Raees Ahmadzai Afghanistan's middle-order stalwart.
Hong Kong finished fourth in Argentina, beaten narrowly by Uganda (1 run) and by Afghanistan (13 runs). For the final qualifiers in South Africa, which run from April 1-19, Afghanistan will be in Group B along with Kenya, Netherlands, Bermuda, UAE and Denmark. Uganda, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Oman and Namibia are in Group A. First or second-place in the groups mean a ticket to World Cup 2011. "It is our dream for a long time. God willing we can do it for our country."
Related: Afghanistan Profile
Filed February 6, 2009