Pak team awaits clearance for Asian squash in Chennai

December 12th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Dec 12 (IANS) Pakistan’s squash chiefs are unsure whether the government will allow them to send a four-member national youth team to defend its team and individual titles in the 2009 Asian Junior Squash Championships to be held in Chennai next month.The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) is still awaiting a “No Objection Certificate” from the authorities to field the country’s top Under-19 players in the biennial contest to be played from Jan 16-23, according to sources.

Pakistan is the defending Asian team and individual champions and will once again be the favourite for the two titles in Chennai. In 2006, Farhan Mehboob — nephew of former world champion Jansher Khan — won the Asian title and also helped Pakistan lift the team crown. This year, Pakistan’s best hope for the title will be Farhan’s younger brother Waqar Mehboob.

Waqar, who was a surprise semifinalist in the World Junior Championships in Zurich this summer, is all set to spearhead the Pakistan team in Chennai. The PSF will name the squad following trials on Dec 24.

The national players will warm up for the Chennai event by featuring in the British Junior Open Squash Championships to be played in Sheffield (England) from Jan 2.

Pakistan will be the top seed in the Asian Junior Championships where it is likely to face a tough challenge from Malaysia, Hong Kong and host India.

It remains to be seen whether the authorities will clear the colts’ Chennai trip as currently the relations between Pakistan and India are very tense in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Indian cricket team’s tour of Pakistan is in serious doubt while the hockey ties between the two nations could be strained after Pakistan threatened to pull out of a four-nation hockey tournament to be played in the Indian cities of Chandigarh and Jalandhar from Jan 30.

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