KARACHI: Squash might be back on the rise as defending champions Pakistan stormed into the semi-finals of the 16th Asian Team Championship with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong in Kuwait yesterday.
They will now face Malaysia today in a bid to seal a place in the final.
Nasir Iqbal gave Pakistan a winning start with an 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 and 11-9 win against Leo Au. Farhan Mehboob, knowing a win would be enough to take Pakistan through, then beat world number 36 Max Lee 11-3, 6-11, 11-7 and 11-9.
“Hong Kong are a top side and to beat them in style has given us the belief that we can beat Malaysia as well despite having a young squad,” Mehboob told The Express Tribune before adding that the pressure was on Pakistan after not doing well in the World Championship.
Meanwhile, Iqbal admitted being quite nervous in the beginning but managing to calm his nerves for the win.
“I was nervous because the onus was on me to win the first match and give the team the start it wanted,” said Iqbal. “Thankfully, I played my part.”
Malaysia will be without their top players but have enough depth to challenge Pakistan, as noted by Pakistan coach Jamshed Gul who added that his experience of coaching Malaysia will come in handy.
“I know their strengths and weaknesses which can prove to be the difference between the two sides,” said Gul before warning his players not tot take Malaysia lightly. “Mehboob is back to his best. He was simply sublime while Iqbal, too, won us a great match because that gave us an early advantage in an important tie.” he added.
Earlier, Pakistan were beaten 2-1 by hosts Kuwait in their last group match on Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.
More in SportsGayle snubs county for Windies return