2017 snooker season set to get its cue

National Championship will commence on Saturday


Natasha Raheel March 10, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The 42nd Jubilee Insurance National Snooker Championship, featuring a pool of 55 players, will begin at Karachi Gymkhana on Saturday.

Muhammad Bilal is the defending champion of the tournament, but retaining the title won't be easy as Pakistan number three and former IBSF World Champion Muhammad Asif says every cueist will try their hardest since the two finalists will be rewarded with spots at the 2017 Asian Snooker Championship, which will be staged in Doha next month.

“It is very important for every player to perform well in this event as it is a ranking championship,” Asif told The Express Tribune. “It is also the first event of the year so having a good run here would help us boost our confidence; similarly, a slow start here can bring more difficulty later in the year.”

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To ensure a strong start, Asif has been training at the Faisalabad Snooker Academy along with Shahid Aftab, Asif Toba and Muhammad Majid.

“We are all training hard — eight hours a day — because winning this event will eventually take us to international tournaments so having a good practice is the key,” explained Asif.

The tournament also features five U18 and U21 players who will get to rub shoulders with some of the top cueists on the national circuit.

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The 55 competitors will be divided into eight groups, with the top two progressing to the knock-out round.

The event's 15-frame final will be held on March 21.

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