ISLAMABAD          -          Pakistan’s Hamza Khan annexed the Under-15 title in the British Junior Squash Championship 2020 after thrashing England’s Yusuf Sheik 3-0 in the final played in Birmingham on Monday.

After registering title victory, Hamza told The Nation from Birmingham that he dedicates this title to people of Pakistan and armed forces, who sacrificed their lives for making the country peaceful. “The way people, federation and everybody supported me, it is amazing and I can’t express my feelings in words. I am very delighted that I finally delivered for my country and help it winning prestigious title.”

Hamza started the final as underdog against top seed Yusuf Sheik and dominated the final till the end to grab the title. Hamza won the first game 11-4 in just 6 minutes, but in the second game, he was down 0-3 and was looking agitated, as Yusuf was playing blocking game and trying to use his height for not giving way to Hamza, who was looking at the referee, but failed to get any favour. Hamza then changed the gears and gave Yusuf piece of mind by applying enormous pressure and won 11 points in a row to clinch the second game 11-3 in 5 minutes.

In the hard-fought third game, Yusuf was clearly playing dirty game of blocking the path of Hamza and was not clearing the way which highly frustrated Hamza, who continued to put pressure on his opponent and matched fire-with-fire till 3-all. After that, Hamza lost composure and provided chance to Yusuf to gain 7-4 lead but Hamza once again staged a remarkable comeback by winning seven consecutive points to take the game 11-7 in 5 minutes, thus grabbed the title for Pakistan after decades of wait. After registering title victory, Hamza bowed down in the court while coach Asif, manager Hussian and others rushed to the court to hug the new squash champions.

Pakistan team manager Hussain Odhwani told The Nation that the U-15 final between Hamza and Yusuf was expected to be a huge contest but the way Hamza not only handled the pressure and overcame his spirited opponent, it was a treat to watch and the special moments were those, when Hamza bowed down to thank Almighty and grabbed the title, the tears of joy were in our eyes and we were thanking Almighty for such a big feat for Pakistan. Earlier, Hamza had beaten Egyptian Yassin Shohdy 3-0 in the semifinal. It was only Hamza, who provided joy to Pakistan by lifting the title as the other two players, Muhammad Ammad (in U-15) and Noor Zaman (in U-17), were simply hammered by their respective opponents.

National U-15 champion Muhammad Ammad was playing semifinal against local lad Yousuf Sheikh, who was enjoying overwhelming crowd support and the entire arena was backing Yousuf, who played like a champion and never allowed Ammad any chance to even think about winning the encounter. Yousuf won the first game 11-9 in 7 minutes, took the second 11-6 in 5 minutes and won the third 11-7 in 6 minutes to the final showdown with Hamza.  In U-17 semifinal, top seed British player Sam Todd simply crushed Noor Zaman in straight games, winning without even slight resistance. Noor did put up decent show in the first game before losing it 6-11 in 5 minutes, but after that, it was supreme Sam, who won the second game 11-1 in just 4 minutes and took the third game 11-1 in 5 minutes to send Noor packing, who was looking dejected and gloomy.

About Noor’s performance, Hussain said: “I don’t know what happened to Noor, who was simply outclassed and was not even close to what he had offered in the previous matches. Anyways sometimes it is not your day and it was simply not Noor’s day, but he played superb squash prior to the semifinals and he can bounce back next year.”