Afghanistan not favourites to win World Cup qualifier, insists coach Simmons

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Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), March 3 (IANS) In spite of impressive performances recently, Afghanistan chief coach Phil Simmons on Saturday dismissed that they are the favourites to win the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier, beginning on Sunday.

Top two teams in the qualifier will complete the 10-team line-up for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup, to be played in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.

Afghanistan are in Group B, along with Scotland, Hong Kong, Nepal and hosts Zimbabwe.

“I am not putting the ‘favourites’ tag on me. We have just come here to play cricket, we need to play proper cricket and win this tournament,” Simmons said in an ICC statement.

“I am one of those who wants to win all the time, and I think these guys are the same. So, the more we will win, the easier it will get for us in the Super Six stage,” the 54-year-old, who played in 26 Tests and 143 ODIs for the Windies from 1987 to 1999, added.

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“You win the Super Six stage, you are in the World Cup as well as in the final. That’s how we look at it.”

Afghanistan will take on Scotland in their opening match at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Sunday, 4 March, and Simmons admitted he was not fully satisfied with his side’s performance in the warm-up matches.

“We haven’t done a lot of things we wanted to do in the warm-up matches. But, at the same time, the boys have been sharp in Sharjah and I am sure the sharpness is still there, maybe a bit of jet-lag but we will get there. Hopefully, we will be able to put everything together come Sunday,” he hoped.

“All of us are looking forward to the tournament. It’s good that it is being held in high esteem, but you have to come out and do it. We had two good outings in the warm-up games and now it’s about business. So, we are looking forward to Sunday.”

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