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Relieved UAE set sights on World Cup qualification

‘Ireland loss has not done any harm to our confidence going into the Super Six stage’

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The monkey is clearly off the back of Team UAE and coach Dougie Brown. Their primary objective of retaining the ODI status has been achieved. By qualifying for the Super Six stages of ICC World Cup qualifiers, the boys led by Rohan Mustafa, have ensured that they have enough financial support from ICC to keep the ball rolling for the next four years.

But having said that, apart from the financial aid, what these associate nations need is an opportunity to play more against Test playing nations. Till the time they just keep playing against each other, there will always be a void between them and the permanent member nations which will be hard to breach.

And that was clearly evident in the ongoing World Cup qualifying tournament where West Indies have looked a class apart from the rest.

Gulf News caught up with UAE skipper Mustafa to speak in this regard and this is what he had to say: “In our case, we are a bit lucky because most of the team do come and play in the UAE. We have been playing against Afghanistan and Ireland on a regular basis and that is helping. But yes, if we can play against Pakistan an ODI series, it will be huge in developing our game.”

With UAE cricket still unable to draw many Emiratis to take up the sport, the team is made up of expatriates, mostly from the subcontinent. The financial aid is a must for these players, who till recent times were juggling between work and their passion. A central contract system has put that to rest and now they are full time cricketers but no aid from ICC would have hit them hard. And hence one can understand the relief that Mustafa and his teammates must be feeling.

“It’s a great achievement and it just wasn’t easy. We were facing so many hard times. After winning the division 2 and then coming and winning here against Papua New Guinea and Netherlands was great,” said Mustafa adding that a huge burden is off their back and now they can solely focus on qualifying for the World Cup in England.

“We will now look to come hard against teams like Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan. That is what we will be looking to do. If we can beat all of them then we can certainly qualify and that is our focus from here on,” said Mustafa, who was unfazed by the huge 226-run loss they suffered at the hands of Ireland in the final group fixture on Monday.

“To be honest it was our bad day against Ireland. We started very badly in fielding, bowling and batting you can say. It is better not to remind ourselves of what happened. We have already discussed that we have to put it to rest immediately. We will bounce back strongly as it has not done any harm to our confidence going into the Super Six stage.”