Africa News Sports Uganda

Uganda: T20 World Cup Qualification ‘a Dream Come True’, Says Captain Brian Masaba

Uganda’s qualification for the men’s T20 World Cup in 2024 is a “dream come true”, says their captain Brian Masaba.

Uganda have reached the tournament for the first time after a nine-wicket victory over Rwanda.

The win means the Cricket Cranes finish second in the African qualifiers in Windhoek, Namibia.

“We’re still trying to process all the emotions,” Masaba, 32, told the BBC World Service’s Sportsworld.

“It’s been a long process, a long journey. This is the culmination of a lot of sweat, blood and tears.

“As a team it was a very, very special moment for us.”

Uganda will join Namibia, who qualified on Tuesday with a game to spare, at the tournament in the United States and the West Indies.

Uganda’s run to qualifying included beating Zimbabwe by five wickets in their first T20 International against a full ICC member, which Masaba describes as “the turning point”.

“Once we beat Zimbabwe, we knew our fate was in our own hands and the boys stood up,” he said.

“This is a big boy, the World Cup! And to be on this platform is something that only happened in our wildest dreams and for us to finally get there is a dream come true for a lot of the guys.”

They subsequently cruised to a nine-wicket triumph over Nigeria and beat neighbours Kenya by 33 runs on Wednesday, then thrashing Rwanda by nine wickets after bowling them out for just 65 to spark the celebrations.

The team celebrated with a small band of travelling fans after opener Simon Ssesazi hit the winning run to clinch victory and qualification.

Masaba hopes that his team’s success can develop the growth of cricket in Uganda, which does not have a professional system yet.

“There’s lots of guys that have had to sacrifice work and family duty and school to pitch up for training and for tournaments,” he added.

“Hopefully going forward, maybe we can fully professionalise and it just opens up opportunities for a lot of guys.

“It’s shown that given the opportunity and the right facilitation, the game of cricket can grow much bigger in Africa.

“For us, it’s opened a lot of doorways and shown the rest of the world that outside the top nations there’s also quite a bit of potential and these boys just need the chance.”

And while Masaba acknowledged that he and his players “idolise” the likes of global superstars Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli, they are confident of causing some surprise results.

“For my players to interact with some of the big names from India, Australia or New Zealand – that would be very special and something I look forward to.

“We came into this tournament and not many people gave us a chance, but it’s cricket, bat and ball.

“We will walk into the World Cup firmly believing that we have a chance to win a couple of games. That’s the mentality that has got us through this qualifier and it’s the same mentality we’ll create at the World Cup.”

Zimbabwe’s men were the top-ranked side in the African qualifiers at 11th in the world, one place ahead of Namibia.

The Chevrons have played at six of the eight previous editions of the T20 World Cup and reached the Super 12 stage in Australia last year, but will miss out on next year’s tournament.

Source : BBC