The Nigeria/Sierra Leone Bilateral series is an age long relationship that presents the fiercest Cricket rivalry in the entire North/West Africa region. In the late 70’s, 80’s 90’s and early 21st century, this rivalry had always surpassed expectations with nail biting finishes to each game which would leave fans of both countries on the edge of their seats, and neutrals simply enjoying another wonderful game of Cricket.
Nigeria could pride herself in the overall head to head standings, but will always appreciate that Sierra Leone provided the best Cricketing experience for them in the continent. The beauty of this rivalry is the merriment in the pub after blood, sweat and tears have been spilled on the pitch on the pitch.
Casting our minds back 3 years in 2018 when Nigeria hosted the ICC T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier A’ and the A.C.A West Africa Qualifier Cup in Lagos, Nigeria had a 6 match encounter against Sierra Leone with the latter failing to register one win. We may recall that in the final encounter, the match was paused for more than 10 mins with emotions running high as players and officials from our brother country scrambled for tactics to put a different complexion on the results.
Fast forward 3 years, Old rivalry will be renewed and new bragging rights expected as Nigeria looks to host Sierra Leone on the first leg of a 6 T-20 match series at the University of Lagos Cricket Oval, Akoka, from the 17th to 27th of October 2021. While Nigeria will look to maintain their impressive record against Sierra Leone, the tournament is expected to serve as part of preparations for the National Men’s team as they take a second shot at the ICC T-20 World Cup Africa Qualifier, taking place in Kigali, Rwanda in November.
Speaking with the President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, Mr. Uyi Akpata, he expressed excitement at the hosting of the bilateral series and what it means for the region. ‘’ We are excited to be hosting Sierra Leone in this 6 match T-20 series which is a renewal of the fierce rivalry between these 2 giant Cricketing nations in the region, but again for the competition it provides and the importance in trying to improve the quality of cricket in the region and to foster diplomatic relationship among member nations. We had wanted Ghana to be part of this to make it a Tri-Series but for want of time and short notice in regards to preparations, we could not make that happen. We are looking to have a more robust and inclusive tournament in the region in the near future, Akpata said.
This tournament will feature Umpires and Match officials from across West and East Africa. Sierra Leone and Rwanda will produce 1 umpire, while Ghana will produce 1 Umpire and Match Referee. Nigeria will complete the Playing Control Team (PCT), with 2 umpires making history with the inclusion of a female umpire certified with ICC Level 1. Match officials drafted for this tournament are in line with international standards and ICC Criteria on international matches and gender balance.
This rivalry between Nigeria and Sierra Leone can be likened to the Ashes played between England and Australia where it goes beyond just a Cricket series, to being a tradition and an opportunity to flex muscles and gain bragging rights among 2 giants. Overall, spectators and Neutrals by default are considered the biggest winners.
The first match in this series will take place on Tuesday 19th October at 10.am Prompt, at the Unilag Cricket Oval, Akoka, Lagos State.
COMPLETE MATCH FIXTURES
19th October, Tuesday, 1st T-20, — 10:am
20th October, Wednesday, 2nd T-20,— 10:am
21st October, Thursday, 3rd T-20, — 2:pm
22nd October, Friday— REST DAY
23rd October, Saturday, 4th T-20,— 10:am
24th October, Sunday, 5th T-20,— 2:pm
25th October, Monday, — REST DAY
26th October, Tuesday, 6th T-20 —- 10:am
27th October, Wednesday — Departure.