UAE coach Qasim Ali has challenged his team to go all the way and lift the Asian Cricket Council’s Western Region Under-16 title as the hosts open their campaign against Oman on Monday.
The UAE are one of six teams (Oman, Maldives, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) vying for the trophy in a competition that has already been postponed twice.
The 35-over tournament had been scheduled to be held in Kuwait in September but political unrest forced the ACC to move it to Thailand in November.
The event was later postponed with the ACC switching the venue to Sharjah and Ajman last month.
As hosts, the team, which will be led by all-rounder Aryan Lakra, will be familiar with home conditions and Ali is confident his players will rise to the occasion although he remains wary of the nations that stand in front of them.
“There’s obviously a lot of expectation to go and win it on home turf,” said Ali, who is also head of cricket development at ICC Academy.
“Whatever matches or tournament the UAE enters, they always want to win and play some competitive cricket. The fact that it’s in Sharjah will give a little bit of advantage but it all comes down to what happens on the day.
“As it’s such a short tournament anything can happen. We’re confident of our chances. We have to face Oman and the Maldives. Oman national team is a highly competitively side and I’m guessing the juniors will be very similar.
“The Maldives are an unknown quantity and we can’t take them lightly.”
Despite beginning their preparations with an intense training camp in June, Ali says the postponement will only have a positive impact on his side.
“It’s an advantage because you get more time to work with them,” he said. “To be honest, nobody really knows anything what to expect from the other sides in the Under-16 tournament.
“From our point of view, the lads have gone back to their own academies and have performed well in their domestic games and we are physically and mentally ready for this tournament.”
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