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Cricket can promote regional integration, says Akpata

Author:
Afolabi Gambari

Uyi Akpata, president of Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), says the bilateral six-match series between Nigeria and Sierra Leone has an impact on integration between both countries.

Akpata spoke on Wednesday, about 24 hours after the series came to an end in Lagos.

Nigeria, the best-ranked team in West and North Africa, overwhelmed Sierra Leone 5-1 in the week-long event held at the University of Lagos cricket oval.

“Aside this series helping our two countries to shape up for the International Cricket Council’s Africa’s T20 Qualifier scheduled for November in Rwanda, it also offers grounds for both federations to impact on each other’s growth,” Akpata said.

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“Ghana and Sierra Leone have kept Nigeria on her toes in the region and it would be nice to have them match up to our level for the growth of the game in the region.”

The Yellow-Greens are already through to the finals of the qualifying series in Rwanda while Sierra Leone will need to pick a slot for the final round from a pre-event scheduled to start from November 2 in Kigali.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has, among others things, agreed to help the Sierra Leone Cricket Association to raise the standard of the country’s playing turf to the current turf wicket being played in Nigeria, in addition to enjoying donation of kits from its sister federation.

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At the closing match of the bilateral series on Tuesday, Nigeria outwitted Sierra Leone with a 36 runs victory in 20 overs to lift the overall trophy after six matches.

The Yellow-Greens’ Peter Aho, who in the fifth match registered the best bowling figures of an innings with six wickets, five runs, one maiden in 3.4 overs, was again adjudged the player of the match in the sixth match and best bowler of the tournament with a trophy and $200.

Sylvester Okpe, former Nigeria’s U-19 captain, emerged as the most valuable player (MVP) of the series with a trophy and $300.

The Nigeria cricket team players and officials would on Monday next week depart Lagos for Harare, Zimbabwe where they would have a ten-day preparation before proceeding to Kigali, Rwanda — venue of the African T20 Qualifier starting on November 17.

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