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Sri Lanka to support Afghanistan cricket development

Four Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the visit
Sri Lanka President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, this week hosted a visit by His Excellency President Hamid Karzai and cricket was on the agenda. President Karzai invited Dr Noor Mohammad Murad, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, along as part of the delegation.

Four Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the visit. One was a "Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Sports", signed for Sri Lanka by Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, and for Afghanistan by Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Amina Safi Afzali.

“Afghanistan is keen to benefit from opportunities in Sri Lanka for our youth in terms of education and training,” President Karzai said.  He went on to note that another area Afghanistan was keen on seeking Sri Lanka’s assistance with sport, particularly in cricket. He mentioned the possibility of coaches from Sri Lanka providing support for the Afghanistan’s national cricket teams.

President Karzai in discussion with President Rajapaksa had a light-hearted moment when he said: “If Sri Lanka can provide us good coaching to defeat all other countries but Sri Lanka.”

In the recent ICC U19 World Cup 2014, Afghanistan defeated the U19 Sri Lankan team and in the Asia Cup 2014 shortly after Sri Lanka topped the tournament table. They had a convincing win over Afghanistan. They defeated Pakistan in the final by 5 wickets to take the Asia Cup 2014.

Captain Mohammad Nabi said after the Asian Cup:  "We have not come here to win the Asia Cup. We are here to perform and learn something from the Test playing nations. We will work hard and learn."

Dr Noor said: “The agreement with Sri Lanka comes at just the right time for Afghanistan. Over this year we will be preparing for the World Cup 2015 and every bit of support is immensely important.  As Mohammad Nabi said, we are working hard to learn from the test playing nations. Sri Lanka has a strong presence at the moment in the cricketing world and they can offer us really valuable support.”

“We are strongly committed to raising our performance to their level,” he added, “Afghans have a dogged determination developed over years of hard times. It is this that has brought us so far, against all odds, in such a short time. It will carry us onward and upward over coming years.”

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