Sierra Leone's World Cup dream shattered
Sierra Leone’s flickering hopes of taking part in the Under-19 World Cup were finally ended when they failed to arrive in Canada before the expiry of the ICC’s September 5 deadline. As a result they were kicked out of a tournament they had done so well to qualify for.
While officially it is said that visa applications for the squad were submitted too late, it is being reported in local newspapers that their non arrival was caused by the refusal by the Canadian consulate in Ghana to issue visas on the grounds there was concern that some of the players would not be willing to return home at the end of the competition. Two Ugandan players sought political asylum after being granted visas to play in an ICC tournament in Australia in 2007, and since then it has proved much harder for some teams to get the documentation necessary for them to play in events.
Afghanistan also had issues with entry visas and arrived in Canada the day after the tournament started, but they have been able to honour all their fixtures.
With Kenya, Africa’s leading Associate side, already in effect barred from the competition after the ICC controversially withdrew their rights to host the 2010 U-19 World Cup, that leaves Uganda, who have struggled to make their mark, as the continent’s only country in the qualifying competition.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa