BY JACOB AJOM
There were no singing parties, no drummers, no dancers and trumpeters; nor were there garlands or flowers hung around their necks when the triumphant Nigerian national Cricket team arrived the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja yesterday.
They practically arrived the country unsung, despite the outstanding feat they achieved in far away Gaborone, Botswana, where they were crowned champions of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7 at the weekend.
The Nigerian team made up of 14 players dominated a strong field that included teams from Fiji, Ghana, Germany, Vanuatu and host country, Botswana. Apart from winning the tournament, Oladotun Olatunji emerged player of the series while Joshua Ogunlola emerged bowler of the series.
Coach of the victorious team, Obruthe Ogbimi could not conceal his joy at the sight of top officials of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, led by its President, Kwesi Sagoe and the General Manager, George Wiltshire, numerous journalists and well-wishers who were at the airport to receive them.
“I am overjoyed,” the coach said, adding, “we are happy to be world Division Seven champions and happier that we gained promotion to Division 6. The task now is to sustain the momentum.”
“It wasn’t that easy and this has thrown new challenges at us,” Joshua Ogunlola, bowler of the series told this reporter, as he swaddled his way through the small crowd.
Skipper of the team, Kunle Adegbola said the occasion was momentous, and he did well relishing it. “It has been my best outing because as captain of the team, this is my first championship medal.
The first time I am leading the team to victory,” he said, while thanking members of the team whom he said, “without them, we could not have achieved anything.”.
Player of the series, Oladotun Olatunji who is based in Canada said he was not bothered by the absence of a large crowd to welcome them back home.
“No. Not at all. I know cricket is not popular here. If it were soccer it would have been a different scenario, but we are happy with our achievement,” he said.