Dubai: Namibia on Tuesday boosted their chances of an appearance in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament, overcoming second-ranked Ireland for a surprise four-run victory.
Left-hander Louis van der Westhuizen scored 24 to help the African side to 160-8 and took two for 37 with the ball to restrict the Irish to 156-9 and earn him the man of the match award.
Ireland had been 65-5 in the 11th over before Gary Wilson (49) and John Mooney (38) put the team back in contention with a 71 sixth-wicket partnership. But the 18 required off the last over proved just too much.
Van der Westhuizen was pleased with the overall performance and predicted that on their day, Namibia were a match for any team.
"It always helps when the team spirits are up and playing Ireland is always a really big game. It is good to play the biggest team on the opening day and it is great to get a win against them," he said.
"Namibia can be quite an unpredictable team but when it comes off then we can beat anybody. The biggest challenge for us will be to be consistent throughout the event and keep up our performance levels."
Ireland coach Phil Simmons maintained that his players had not under-estimated their opponents but they were already on the back foot after allowing Namibia to score too many runs in the opening overs.
"Everything needs to improve from tomorrow, as we are not where we need to be in every aspect of our game for this event and that improvement has to start now," he added.
Sixteen teams are in the United Arab Emirates to battle it out for two places at the 2012 finals in Sri Lanka in September and October. Namibia play Scotland on Wednesday while Ireland take on Kenya.
In other matches, much-fancied Afghanistan beat Papua New Guinea by six wickets, Nepal won by 28 runs against Hong Kong, the Netherlands beat Canada by 42 runs and Denmark beat Bermuda by seven wickets.
Italy crushed Oman by nine wickets, Uganda beat the United States by four wickets while Scotland beat Kenya by 14 runs.