Asian Squash Championship: Aamir through to final, Farhan ousted

Pakistan head coach Gul says ‘biased refereeing’ led to player’s exit.

While Aamir Atlas enjoyed easy sailing into the final, his compatriot Farhan Mehboob’s run ended yesterday with biased refereeing, according to Pakistan head coach Jamshed Gul, marring his last-four match. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS


Hopes of an all-Pakistan final in the men’s category of the Asian Individual Squash Championship were dashed after Farhan Mehboob suffered a last-four exit, going down to Kuwait’s Ammar al Muzayen amid controversial circumstances.

Compatriot Aamir Atlas Khan was, however, able to power his way into the final after a win over Malaysia’s Mohammad Asyraf Azan 11-5, 11-6 and 11-6 as the hosts remained alive in the competition underway at the Mushaf Squash Complex in Islamabad.

Controversy around Farhan’s semi-final

But the day was overshadowed by controversy surrounding the semi-final between Farhan and al Muzayen, with the hosts blaming the referee and claiming bias that caused the Pakistani’s 3-0 defeat.

The match, touted as the most-awaited contest, saw al Muzayen win with scores of 11-8, 11-3 and 14-12.

Farhan was trailing 10-6 in the third game before he staged a comeback to level the score. With al Muzayen running out of steam, there was hope that the Pakistani would be able to take the match into the fourth game. Referee Munir Shah of Singapore, however, awarded two lets to al Muzayen, which Pakistan officials said should have been given to Farhan. Alongside Munir, Jordan’s Ahmad Badar and Hong Kong’s Mohammad Fayyaz were acting as side referees.

Pakistan to lodge official complaint

As the match ended, there was a heated discussion between Pakistan head coach Jamshed Gul and the referees. Gul was also seen talking to the Asian Squash Federation (ASF) technical official.

“I haven’t seen such bias and poor referring,” Gul told The Express Tribune. “We will be lodging an official complaint with the ASF against these referees because they cost us an all-Pakistan final. If Farhan had won that game, he would have gone on to win the match.”

Farhan was also displeased with the refereeing standards.

“It was an important match as people had high expectations from me but the referees spoiled it,” said Farhan. “The crowd and officials’ reaction says it all and I don’t have to defend myself as everybody saw that nearly a dozen crucial calls went against me.”

Al Muzayen will play the final against Aamir who enjoyed an  easy sailing over his opponent.

Meanwhile in the women’s category, top-seed Malaysian Low Wee Wern will be up against Hong Kong’s Anni Au in the final.

Low defeated Hong Kong’s Joey Chan 3-1 with scores of 11-7, 4-11, 11-4 and 11-9, while Au overcame Malaysia’s Delia Arnold 9-11, 11-6, 12-10 and 11-9.

Pakistan’s challenge in the women’s draw ended on Friday with the country’s last-surviving player Maria Toor Pakai going down to Low.

‘Pakistan safe for international events’

Asian Squash Federation (ASF) President David Mui of Hong Kong has said that Pakistan is safe to host more international events, terming the ongoing Asian Squash Championship as proof of the matter. Mui said the country had ‘given a great deal’ to the sport in producing legends and it was time the international community paid back the debt, adding that the ASF would continue its support.

“I’m pleased with the arrangements for the Championship as the stay and security has been top-notch,” Mui told The Express Tribune. “I will encourage Asian players to play more events in Pakistan. This Asian Championship will build a soft image of the country and help boost its confidence again.”

The ASF chief also praised the efforts of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in helping squash survive in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2013.


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