Eight Indians advance to knockout stage of World Snooker

November 30th, 2011 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 30 (IANS) While century-breaks continued to rain in the IBSF World snooker championship, and eight Indians qualified for the knock-out stage, 26-year old Omar Alkojah provided a lot of cheer for Syria by defeating twice Asian champion Yasin Merchant 4-3 in a cliff-hanger en route to the knock-out round here Wednesday.

The defeat notwithstanding, Merchant progressed to the knock-out round along with Pankaj Advani, Manan Chandra, Brijesh Damani, Anuj Uppal, Kamal Chawla, Alok Kumar and IH Manudev. Of the lot, only Advani came through the league winning all his matches.

Merchant, the 44-year-old from Mumbai playing his last competitive snooker event, also made it to the knock-out round by finishing third behind group topper Martin O’Donnell and Alkojah, but it was anything but a convincing performance from the veteran.

Alkojah, a relative greenhorn compared to Merchant, but well-drilled in the basics, courtesy S. Jairaj, the former national champion now coaching the Syrians, led 3-1, but a miss on the black helped Merchant back in the match.

“I kept thinking of that miss and before I realised, he had made it 3-3. In the final frame, I decided to be positive and forget the previous six frames. It helped me and I began to pot well,” said Alkojah who, in the process, showcased his single-ball potting ability with a long red in the seventh on way to a match-winning 40-plus break.

Meanwhile, Advani cracked his third century (103) of the tournament while vanquishing Swiss Pascal Camenzind 4-1 and complete his Group D league engagements with an all-win record and book his spot in the round of 32.

The rule of three players from each of the 16 groups to qualify for the knock-out round, helped Delhi’s Chandra, Brijesh Damani and National champion Alok Kumar to advance despite losing their concluding group fixtures.

Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh beat Chandra 4-1. The Thai player, winner of the title in 2008, lost the first frame but stormed back to dominate with a century break (125) while Alok went down to Scotland’s Mark Boyle 1-4 and Damani lost 3-4 to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.

Another centurion, Hossein Vafaei Ayouri of Iran, missed a possible maximum of 147 as he fluffed the yellow after taking 15 reds followed by 15 blacks while defeating Alexander Gauss of Austria.

With the colours on spot, Ayouri looked set for the magic figure only to miss the yellow that ended his break on 120. Ayouri later won his second match of the day in Group G to advance to the knock-out stage.

The results (preliminary league):

Group A: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (THA) bt Manan Chandra (IND) 4-1; Kevin Van Hove-Speltinckx (BEL) bt Ahmed Aly Elsayed (USA) 4-0.

Group B: Bairaq Al-Urfy (SWE) bt Khaled Elbakosh (LBA) 4-0; Omar Alkojah (SYR) bt Yasin Merchant (IND) 4-3.

Group C: Ehsan Heydari Nezhad (IRI) bt Andrei Vill (RUS) 4-0; Rodney Goggins (IRL) bt Blkasem Dabob (LBA) 4-0.

Group D: Pankaj Advani (IND) bt Pascal Camenzind (SUI) 4-1; Marcin Nitschke (POL) bt Antti Silvo (FIN) 4-1; Yaser Elsherbiny (EGY) bt Atsutoshi Inoue (JPN) 4-1.

Group E: Mark Boyle (SCT) bt Alok Kumar (IND) 4-1; Hisham Rashid Al Saqer (BRN) bt Sergelen Batdelger (MGL) 4-2; Lee Walker (WAL) bt Jason Williams (CAN) 4-0.

Group F: Gregory Kopec (FRA) bt Bernhard Bernhardsson (ISL) 4-0; Joe Minici (AUS) bt Lalrina Renthlei (IND) 4-2; Fung Kwok Wai (HKG) bt Mohamed Isa Ebrahim Shaikh (BRN) 4-0; Joe Minici (AUS) bt Gregory Kopec (FRA) 4-1; Shaikh bt Renthlei 4-3; Wai bt Bernhardsson 4-1.

Group G: Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi (AFG) bt Manudev I.H (IND) 4-2; Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (IRI) bt Alexander Gauss (AUT) 4-0; Manudev bt Gauss 4-1; Ayouri bt Vladimir Bykov (RUS) 4-0.

Group H: Susantha Boteju (SRI) bt Ali Jaafar (FRA) 4-2; Antti Mannila (FIN) bt Yusuke Tanaka (JPN) 4-1; Mohamed Shehab (UAE) bt Pierre Jordaan (RSA) 4-2; Mannila bt Jordaan 4-0; Shehab bt Boteju 4-0; Yusuke Tanaka (JPN) bt Ali Jaafar (FRA) 4-2.

Group K: Steve Mifsud (AUS) bt Sergiy Isayenko (UKR) 4-0; Farhan Mirza (SWE) bt Mohammed Al Joaker (UAE) 4-2; Mifsud bt Mirza 4-2; Isayenko (UKR) bt Ali Abd Mohsin (IRQ) 4-2.

Group L: Brijesh Damani (IND) bt Gary Gillard (NZL) 4-0; Noppon Saengkham (THA) bt Antonis Poullos (CYP) 4-1; Saengkham bt Damani 4-3.

Group M: Rais Khan Sen Zahi (AFG) bt Karl-Heinz Beggel (GER) 4-2; Muhammad Asif (PAK) bt Michael Wild (ENG) 4-2;

Group P: Hitesh Naran (RSA) bt Joris Maas (NED) 4-0; Kamal Chawla (IND) bt Stefan Schneider (SUI) 4-1.

Group Q: Rhydian Richards (WAL) bt Mohamed Khairy (EGY) 4-1; Costas Konnaris (CYP) bt Balaji Reddy (IND) 4-3.

Group R: Karam Fateima (SYR) bt Neeraj Kumar (IND) 4-2; Peter Bullen (BEL) bt Ajeya Prabhakar (USA) 4-1.

(Anand Philar can be contacted at anandphilar@gmail.com)

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