Endurance ready for the long haul
Nigeria captain Endurance Ofem believes his side has what it takes to go all the way at the World Cricket League Division 7 tournament that begins on 1 May in Gaborone Botswana.
The 28-year-old is confident that the hard work the side has put in will be truly beneficial for the event.
'We have been working hard as a unit, we've been in South Africa since 14 April and have had the opportunity to train at the indoor facilities in Benoni with two friendly games being played against some decent opposition. I'm happy the guys are hitting good form ahead of the tournament in Botswana.
'We're happy heading into Botswana where we will be playing on hard surfaces, similar to the conditions back home in Nigeria. I feel we have a chance and the team is set and in good form so should be able get going under the conditions in Gaborone,' said Ofem.
Ofem is also particularly proud of the team's development and the way the side is made up of a number of players who have come through the development system created by the Nigeria Cricket Federation.
Ofem commented: 'The Nigeria Cricket Federation over the last 15 years has taken grassroots development as a key objective in its overall development plan. If we look through the beginning of the U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers when we first participated as West Africa, Nigeria provided nine of the 13 players that represented West Africa in Uganda in 2001.
'If you then look at the later tournaments when we played as Nigeria from the U19 CWCQ in Namibia in 2003 and onwards you will see similar names such as myself, Adekunle Adegbola, Tope Olayinka, Akabogu ‘Emmanuel' Okwudili, Onikoyi Ademola, Olajide Bejide, Joshua Ogunlola, Segun Olayinka and recently Saheed Akolade. To me this illustrates the belief the Board has had in developing the youth in the side - all you have to do is take a look at the current side and most of the players have been around from a young age.'
Ofem believes the likes of Okwudili among others are also key to the side doing well at the event: 'Emmanuel is key to me as a captain and the county in our mission. Every member of this team has the ability to take games away from the opponent and I'm glad to have a team like this. I'm sure some of the countries in this tournament will be wondering about who are the key players for Nigeria - but there are three they should already be aware of in the form of Oluseye Olympio, Adekunle Adegbola and Emmanuel Okwudili.'
The Nigerian has been carefully following the other teams in the tournament ahead of the event so that he's fully across the opposition that Nigeria will be up against.
'We followed carefully the proceedings in WCL Div. 6, Norway were beaten in the fifth/sixth play-off by Botswana while Kuwait won WCL Div. 8 and Germany came second. We've not played Germany, Norway and Kuwait but we are very much aware of the attacking form of cricket played by the Kuwait team. We'll try and learn a bit about Germany while Japan played their last tournament with a young side so we expect some form of maturity to have grown within the side considering the amount of development work Japan is putting into its cricket.
'Our mission is the first game - that's what we look forward to,' concluded Ofem.