Afghanistan look to seal World Cup spot
Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan has targeted winning both matches against Kenya this week in the World Cricket League (WCL), victories which will guarantee direct qualification to the 2015 World Cup.
Afghanistan are currently No. 4 in the WCL points table behind Ireland, UAE and Netherlands, with only the top two automatically progressing to the World Cup. While Ireland have already qualified, UAE and Netherlands have 18 points each after playing all their matches.
Two wins for Afghanistan, currently on 15 points, will lift them to second place and seal a World Cup spot. If Afghanistan fail to do so, they will head to New Zealand for a second chance to qualify.
"It is very important for us to qualify directly, otherwise there would be extra pressure on the boys to go to New Zealand for another round of qualification," Khan said. "We want to qualify directly and start preparing for the World Cup."
Khan stated that though the players have been under pressure throughout the tournament, they are now used to it. "Since I joined about 18 months ago, we knew that we had to win all remaining matches to qualify directly for the World Cup," he said. "The pressure has been there since the beginning and the boys are used to it."
If Afghanistan are unable to win both the matches, UAE at No. 2 will qualify automatically along with Ireland. UAE won their last two matches, on Friday and Sunday, dismissing Namibia for 39 and 80 respectively, which also caused Netherlands' elimination.
The WCL teams that don't progress directly to the World Cup will get a second chance in next year's qualifiers in New Zealand. They will play with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda for the other two World Cup spots.