Naseem to defend U18 title in China

Teenager believes he can win the U21 event as well during stay in Jinan

Natasha Raheel June 30, 2018

KARACHI: Pakistan’s wonder boy Naseem Akhtar along with Haris Tahir and debutant Umar Khan travel for the IBSF U18 and U21 Championship that will begin July 2 at Jinan, China.

Naseem will be defending his U18 world championship title after he became the first Pakistani to ever win the event last year.

According to the teenager, his aim includes defending the U18 title while simultaneously winning the U21 event.

“This is going to be my last U18 world championship so I want to make it count,” Naseem told The Express Tribune as the three-member team prepared to leave Karachi for China on Saturday evening. “I’m more confident this time, but yes there is a lot of expectation and I’m trying not to think about the pressure. My aim is to show my game and how much I’ve improved over the year since the last championship. It is crucial for players like me to be consistent.”

The Sahiwal-based youngster believes consistency is necessary if he is to inspire upcoming players from his home-town and maybe the government can put in more effort to promote snooker with better facilities.

“Within this last year, I’ve seen so many youngsters of my age come forward and take up snooker at my local club in Sahiwal. There is hope, but the government has not done much, however, because of the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) I have gotten a job at the National Bank of Pakistan on contract, which is still better than nothing.

He added: “I really want to win these championships so that we can push the sport forward.”

On the other hand PBSA official Naveed Kapadia added that all three players have prepared at the 10-day camp in Karachi and they have improved individually.

“Naseem has been giving hard time to the seniors too. The seasoned players have played tough matches against him and he won against them. Similarly Haris is consistently upgrading his game at the provincial championships as well, while Umar has been playing for the last two years and this is his chance at glory. We are very hopeful that our youth will make their mark,” said Kapadia.


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