Namibia have booked a place in the second stage of the Twenty20 World Cup, the biggest achievement in their cricket history.
They defeated Ireland by eight wickets with nine balls to spare at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Captain Gerhard Erasmus, with 53 not out, and veteran David Wiese with an unbeaten 14-ball 28, carried Namibia to victory with an unbroken partnership of 53.
Namibia now go into Group 2 with India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Scotland while Ireland are eliminated.
The African nation are competing in only their second major tournament, having lost all six fixtures in the 2003 50-over World Cup.
However, a third such event is coming along soon as qualification for the Super 12s also earns them a place in next year’s T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia.
Erasmus said: “We are a small cricketing nation and it means a lot.
“It’s a small country, and a small number of people play cricket. We should be proud of ourselves.”
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, maybe it will on the way home, maybe tomorrow, maybe not until the tournament is over.”
Pierre De Bruyn, the head coach, said: “It’s ultimately a dream that’s come true for these players. They were seven- or six-year-old boys dreaming of playing against India or Pakistan in a World Cup and it’s happened.
“All they had the last few years until now was to watch these guys on TV and dream about it and they’re going to wake up in the morning thinking it’s real and I’m just so pleased for them.”
Namibia had just three full-time contracted players when they were awarded ICC status in 2019 and were able to hand out 16 professional deals.
“We’re ecstatic,” added De Bruyn.
“We’re not an organisation with the luxury of a lot of resources around us. I’ve got 18 players to pick from in my national squad and I know what they’ve put in the last three years.”
Ireland, having elected to bat, failed to build on a strong start and were restricted to 8-125 by Namibia.
The Irish were 0-55 after six overs at the end of the power play, but the runs stopped flowing on a slow pitch after Paul Stirling was out for a 24-ball 38 to leave the score at 1-62 in the eighth over.
Namibia only conceded 24 runs in the final four overs, with Jan Frylinck finishing with figures of 3-21.
Andrew Balburnie, Ireland’s captain, said: “It hurts a lot. It is a really tough one to take. It will take a while to go away.
“We probably didn’t get enough with the start that we got. Namibia outplayed us on the day. The lads are gutted.”
In the group’s other match, a dead rubber, also in Sharjah, Sri Lanka thrashed Netherlands by eight wickets with more than 12 overs remaining.
The Dutch, who lost all three matches, were dismissed for 44 in ten overs with a top score of 11. Lahiru Kumara took three for seven in three overs and Wanindu Hasaranga three for nine in three overs.
Sri Lanka took just 43 balls to knock the runs off, Kusal Perera cracking an unbeaten 33 off 24 balls.
In the second stage Sri Lanka join Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh in Group 1.