Coach of Nigeria’s U19 Cricket national team Clive Ogbimi wants his wards to replicate the fighting spirit which saw them emerge through the African qualifiers unbeaten as they get set to open their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup campaign against Australia today.
Ogbimi plotted the Junior Yellow Greens’ path through two qualifying campaigns that saw the team claim scalp after scalp of more fancied sides as they confounded global expectations to become the first Nigerian side to qualify for a global cricket tournament.
And as the Junior Yellow Greens get set to make their tournament bow at the Diamond Oval in Kimberly against three-time champions Australia, Ogbimi says the boys must replicate that spirit and channel the aspirations of millions of Nigerians back home “to draw blood” against their Group B opponents.
“The team will have to replicate the fighting spirit because that’s the key thing this team has shown in the last two tournaments, that when you’re up against it, with that resilient Nigerian you can be able to go out there and be able to compete,” Ogbimi told busybuddiesng.com in an exclusive chat.
“So we want these guys to carry that spirit, the aspirations of 200 million Nigerians and go out there and draw blood.”
Ogbimi is under no illusions the challenges his wards will face in attempting to navigate through their group of former champions.
England and the West Indies have a title apiece and Australia are the second most successful side at this level.
Despite the obvious challenges these teams pose, Ogbimi believes his wards are more than capable of raising their game to the highest standards when the occasion calls for it.
“Everyone says we’re up against it, world class England, Australia, but to be fair to these guys, when you raise your game to qualify, it means you have come to that level, and what you don’t want to do is go there and freeze,” Ogbimi said.
“They go there and understand that it’s bat and ball. And if you know the history of Nigeria at youth level, Nigeria springs lots of surprises.”
And the coach believes he has a team of players who can do the “unthinkable” and surprise the world just like they did in the African qualifiers and qualify their group.
“Ordinarily the first thing you want to do is get out of your group,” he said.
“To qualify for the world, we beat Namibia in their own home ground, who were number one ranked in that tournament. We beat Uganda, who we went to their country to learn and of course, Tanzania and Kenya who were already ranked ahead of us.
“So the target for the guys, the way they play, the way they talk, is that it’s time for us to get down some big teams. So measuredly we set a target, do what supposedly would be the unthinkable which is to get beyond the group. So let’s get that one first, then we take it from there,” he concluded.