Nigeria captain Endurance Ofem has said he is pleased with his side's form ahead of the World Cricket League Division 7 tournament, which begins on May 1 in Gaborone, Botswana. Ofem, 28, is confident that the hard work the team has put in will show during the tournament, especially with the pitches in Botswana resembling those in Nigeria.
"We have been working hard as a unit, we've been in South Africa since April 14 and have had the opportunity to train at the indoor facilities in Benoni," he said. "I'm happy the guys are hitting good form ahead of the tournament in Botswana.
"In Botswana we will be playing on hard surfaces, similar to the conditions back home in Nigeria. I feel we have a chance and the team should be able get going in those conditions."
Ofem is also pleased that the side is made up of a number of players who have come through the development system put in place by the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF). "The NCF, over the last 15 years, has taken grassroots development as a key objective. If we look back at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in 2001, when we first participated as West Africa, Nigeria provided nine of the 13 players that represented West Africa.
"Later, when we played as Nigeria in 2003 and onwards, you will see names such as myself, Adekunle Adegbola, Tope Olayinka, Akabogu Okwudili and Saheed Akolade, among others, coming through," he said. This, he added, shows the board's belief in developing young talent. "Most of the players in the current side have been around from a young age."
Ofem singled out in-form batsmen Okwudili and Adegbola, as well as Oluseye Olympio, as players to watch out for. "Every member of this team has the ability to take games away from the opponent. Some of the countries in this tournament should be aware of in the form of Oluseye Olympio, Adekunle Adegbola and Emmanuel Okwudili." Nigeria's goal, he said, is to win their first game - the tournament opener against Norway - and move forward from there.