ICC Media Release
The make-up of the Super Eight stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier was finalised today with Afghanistan continuing its incredible journey towards possible participation in the 2011 World Cup.
It will, however, be very difficult for Norooz Mangal and his team to secure one of the four remaining spots at the event because the two matches it has won in this event so far have been against sides that didn't make the last eight and so, as a result, they will not carry forward any points to the Super Eight stage.
As such, Afghanistan lies in seventh position, just ahead of Namibia on net run-rate, with four rounds of matches to go. But the words 'impossible' or even 'unlikely' do not seem to be in the Afghans' vocabulary as, in the space of less than a year, they have managed to win through from Division 5 of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League all the way up to the last eight of the top Associate and Affiliate teams in the world.
'This is a great achievement for us,' said Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan.
'We came from Division 5 and now we have left behind us one team that played in the last World Cup (Bermuda) and two sides that were in Division 2 (Denmark and Oman) as well as Uganda which qualified with us from Division 3 so we are delighted with the progress we are making. It's a great moment.
'Our first target was to get in the top eight. Now we have set our sights on the top six because that will bring ODI status for four years. My team is getting used to this now. We have learned lessons from mistakes we made against the other teams, especially the better sides like Kenya and the Netherlands and we will carry that experience into the Super Eight.
'Qualifying for the World Cup will be very difficult as we will have to win all four games probably but that dream is deep inside me. Anything can happen and we have not given up hope. We don't know how to give up hope,' he said.
Afghanistan will be joined by defending champion Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Namibia, Netherlands, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates with matches in that stage of the event getting under way on Saturday.
As Namibia was beaten easily by Ireland at the WITS University ground, its fate was decided by a match taking place on another part of the South African highveld as Oman amazingly beat Uganda at LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria by just one wicket.
Uganda had batted well to reach 298-5 in 50 overs with Joel Olweny making 85. But the Oman batsmen played like they were late for an appointment and eventually got home after just 37.1 overs. Man of the match Farhan Khan was the destructor-in-chief bludgeoning 95 off just 49 balls, an innings that included 10 fours and seven sixes.
That win for Oman could not lift it off the bottom of Group A but it did ensure Uganda's World Cup dream was over for another four years as the fortunate Namibia progresses by virtue of having the best net run-rate of those three teams on two points.
Meanwhile, Ireland remains the only unbeaten team in the competition and it takes through six points to the Super Eight. In reply to Namibia's 213, William Porterfield made 84 and there was a half-century too for Niall O'Brien as Ireland got home with seven wickets to spare.
Defending champion Scotland suffered a serious blow to its qualification hopes when it was humbled by a strong Canada performance in an ODI at Benoni. Set a competitive but not unrealistic target of 253 to win, Scotland slumped to 104 all out to give Canada two extra points to take into the Super Eight stage. That puts the Scots on just two points with plenty of ground to make up.
In Group B, Bermuda crashed out of the tournament by losing to the Netherlands in Potchefstroom. Irving Romaine's team, which managed to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, had been off the pace for much of the tournament having lost to Kenya, UAE and Afghanistan before today's latest disappointment.
Ryan ten Doeschate was the hero for the Netherlands, scoring a typically fluent 67 backed up with three wickets opening the bowling to ensure victory for his team by 63 runs.
Elsewhere, Kenya finished off its group stage campaign with a convincing win over Denmark at Potchefstroom University. After restricting the Danes to 173-8 off 50 overs, Kennedy Obuya (84 not out) and Seren Waters (61 not out) made sure of the points as the Africans strolled to victory for the loss of just one wicket.