The Uganda national men’s cricket team, Cricket Cranes on Thursday qualified for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup for the first time in history.
Securing a compelling nine-wicket victory over Rwanda, the Cricket Cranes have etched their name as the sixth African side to qualify for the 2024 edition scheduled to take place in the West Indies and the United States from June 4th to 30th next year.
Notably, they joined Namibia in qualifying for the prestigious event, while Zimbabwe and Kenya missed out on the opportunity in the recent qualifiers.
Earlier in the week, Namibia secured their place in the tournament by defeating Tanzania, marking their third consecutive T20 World Cup appearance. Uganda's triumphant victory involved dismissing their opponents for a mere 65 runs before successfully achieving their target in 8.1 overs.
This victory marked their fifth win in six games in the African qualifier, following their initial convincing win against Tanzania by eight wickets. Expressing his emotions after the qualification, Uganda's captain Brian Masaba described the achievement as an immensely emotional moment for the team, recognizing the persistent hard work put in behind the scenes.
"It is pretty surreal. I can't put words to the emotions we are feeling now as a team. It's massive for Ugandan cricket and huge for African cricket. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get us where we are today. It has been years of toil and hard work, four or five years of sacrifice. The fans joining in the celebrations were pretty special,” said Masaba.
Highlighting the potential beyond the cricket powerhouses, Masaba expressed hope that the government and sponsors would support their journey.
"I think the whole world realizes there is a lot of potential outside the big nations. Hopefully, this is something the government and sponsors can get behind,” he added.
The upcoming 2024 tournament will feature an expanded format with 20 nations initially divided into four groups of five. The top two from each group will progress to the Super 8 stage, where two pools of four will compete for a place in the semi-finals.