UAE captain Ahmed Raza excited by coaching role at U19 World Cup

National team's 'Young guns' will be mentored by 31-year-old at tournament in South Africa

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Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson have all been celebrated participants in Under 19 World Cups in the past.

But whether this month’s tournament features too prominently in their diaries is debatable.

The same does not go for all international captains, though. Ahmed Raza is taking advantage of a break in the UAE senior team’s schedule to be in South Africa.

The UAE captain will be a coach and player mentor for the U19 side, who start their campaign against Canada on Saturday.

His role will involve advising the young players on how to manage what they are faced with, as well as throwing balls to batsmen at nets, and he cannot wait to get started.

“All the boys have been very welcoming, and have been accepting all the experience I have to share with them,” Raza, 31, said.

“I’ve been trying to make them understand how to react in difficult situations and overcome tough phases by playing smart cricket.

“Three of these players have already broken in to the men’s team, and a few others are knocking on the door.

“I’m really excited for these young guns, and can’t wait to see how this World Cup unfolds.”

The competition also marks a return home for the Dom Telo, the team’s coach. The 33-year-old coach is originally from Cape Town, which is some way from where UAE will play their group matches, in Bloemfontein and Potchefstroom.

But he is delighted to be leading the young national team back to his homeland. “I haven’t been back to South Africa in three and a half years now,” Telo said.

“It is any coach’s dream to be coaching in a World Cup. It is one of mine, something I’ve always wanted to achieve.

“I didn’t think it would come this early in my career, but credit to these young players and the way they have gone about their business, and in qualifying for a World Cup, they really deserve it.

“It is exciting for me, just as much as it is exciting for them. Going home is the cherry on the top.

“Playing against South Africa [in the last group match on Saturday, January 25] is going to be a nervous game for me, but I have faith in these guys.

“I know they’ll put everything on the line. That is the type of players they are.”