Pakistan had to settle for silver in the WSF World Junior Squash Team Championship after they were humbled 2-0 by defending champions Egypt in yesterday’s final that took place in Doha, Qatar.
Pakistan rued the absence of their captain Danish Atlas, who was, at first, said to be nursing an injury and rested ahead of the crucial matches but, as it was later revealed, was sent back after being told he was over-age for the event.
In the final, meanwhile, Mazen Hesham beat Ali Bokhari 3-1, edging out Atlas’ replacement 7-11, 11-8, 11-5 and 11-6 in 42 minutes. Marwan El Shorbagy, who clinched the individual championship for the second time running, thumped Nasir Iqbal 11-9, 11-7 and 11-6 in just 38 minutes.
Pakistan coach Jamshed Gul said that he was satisfied with the silver medal given that the team was without Atlas and the players were inexperienced on the tour.
“We were playing at 50% capacity without Atlas which is why I’m happy that we still made it to the final,” Gul told The Express Tribune. “Atlas’ loss changed the whole scenario and our strategy because had he been present, Iqbal and Hamzah Bokhari would’ve gotten easier opponents in the final. The Egyptians play in PSA tournaments regularly whereas our players seldom get the chance.”
Gul also rebuffed claims that Atlas was sent home to prevent medical tests being done on him.
“The truth is that he was unfit which is why we called for a replacement.”
Meanwhile, Iqbal claimed that Pakistan’s presence into the tournament’s final without Atlas was a huge achievement.
“Playing without your captain is very difficult but we managed to do much better than India and England. People should support us for our efforts and the decent show we put on.”
Even Hamzah is over-aged: PSF official
Earlier, Pakistan’s quest to win the singles and the team titles was continuously affected by the age-related issues with even the WSF showing concerns over the age of one of the team members. However, several PSF officials who are associated with provincial federations said that it was not only Atlas who was over-age but Hamzah as well.
“Both Atlas and Bokhari are over the age limit and the PSF is aware of that,” said a PSF official. “There are doubts on Iqbal’s age as well but still the federation opted to send them while putting the country’s reputation at risk. The federation knew that their documents have been altered but they still persisted with them only to win medals.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.
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