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Lawrence Mahatlane being unveiled as Uganda's coach in 2020.


‘I’m sad for Zimbabwe and over the moon for Uganda’



LAWRENCE Mahatlane, the South African who helped mould Uganda’s cricket team into a competitive outfit, has expressed delight following the East Africans’ qualification to next year’s T20 World Cup but feels Africa is under-represented in the tournament.


47-year-old Mahatlane surprisingly left his role as Uganda’s head coach a month before the continent’s World Cup qualifiers in Namibia last month, but had presided over the team’s encouraging growth since his appointment in 2020.

“I’m over the moon for the Cricket Cranes as the boys have worked hard over a long period of time,” Mahatlane told The NewsHawks this week.

“I played a small part in helping the boys realise their potential and allowing them to dream.”

Uganda’s success, alongside qualifiers host and fellow ICC Associate member nation Namibia, means Zimbabwe will not be in the West Indies and the United States next year – the only full member to miss out on the expanded T20 World Cup.

While Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify has sparked huge uproar in the country, with the national board facing mounting pressure to resign, Mahatlane has praised the leadership in Ugandan cricket for laying the foundation for the team’s success.

“A lot of credit has to go to chairman Badu (Bashir Ansasira), the secretary at the time Michael (Nuwagaba), and the former CEO Martin Ondeko. They helped in contracting players and giving them security so that they could focus on their cricket. At the time we had 10 contracted players and currently there are over 20. I’m not surprised at all as they have been a team of near misses for the longest time. A lot of people forget that they beat Afghanistan in 2009 so historically they have always had good cricketers who are natural athletes.”

Namibia and Uganda will join automatic qualifiers South Africa at the World Cup, but Mahatlane – who has previously coached his country’s Under-19 team – reckons Africa should be having more representatives.

“I’m not sure how many people are aware that Africa can have five teams at the T20 World Cup,” said Mahatlane.

 “The challenge is for our top three nations (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia) to finish in the top 10 for automatic qualification (the following tournament). So it was very sad to see Namibia and Zimbabwe not making the top 10 in Australia (in 2022). Hopefully in the next World Cups Africa can have more teams. I’m sad for Zimbabwe as they have some great players and over the moon for Uganda. Hopefully Associate cricket on the continent can be recognised and supported even more. More cricket needs to be played at this level to help teams develop. I can warn the world to watch out for Nigeria in the near future.”