MARSEILLE - Egypt started their 25th WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship 2017 campaign on a high note, as they thrashed 6-time champions Pakistan 3-0 in the inaugural match of the Pool A played here at Modern Squash Club on Monday.

Although the results were 0-3 against Pakistan, yet it didn’t reflect how well Zaman and to some extant young Shahjahan gave torrid times to world number 2 Karim Abdel Gawad and present US Open champion Ali Farag, as it was breath-taking squash on offer. According to draws, it was 3-2 and 1 combination, which means Ammad Fareed was to play the first match, Shahjahan second and Farhan Zaman third. It almost ended Pakistan chances in the match, as both Shahjahan and Amamd were relatively young and didn’t have any past experience of playing at such level.

Marwan El Shorbagy was up against Ammad in the first match. Marwan was simply toying with Ammad in the first game and took it 11-4. Ammad then settled down well and put up a decent fight, but he lost again 5-11. Ammad struggled hard in the third game and took 5-3 lead, but then he started committing too many childish mistakes, which cost him the game 6-11 and the match.

After getting 1-0 lead, Egyptian tails were clearly up and they had the services of man-in-form Ali Farag, who was up against young Shahjahan Khan. The youngsters did show glimpses of brilliance in the first game, but lost it 3-11. It was almost same situation in the second game, which Sjhahjahan lost 4-11, but in the third game, Shahjahan put Farag under enormous pressure and never showed any sign that match was slipping out of his hands. One or two crucial points went against Shahjahan, which made a huge difference in the end, as the gallant fighter lost the game 7-11.

With this, Pakistan has already lost the match 0-2 and Farhan Zaman was playing just for the pride of the country against world number 2 and present world squash champion Karim Abdel Gawad. It was awesome squash on offer and the entire arena was packed with people standing at every available place to witness battle royal on offer. Zaman, despite fighting with tissue damage in his left leg, displayed one of the best games of his life. It was hard to believe that Zaman was playing in such dominating mood and if he had not committed too many unforced errors, he could have won the match as well.

Pakistan don’t have a great start, but it was very much expected when you are up against world number 1 side. Now Pakistan will take on Switzerland in their last group match, which will be held on tomorrow (Wednesday). Switzerland is placed at 16 and Pakistan at 17 in rankings. They have one good player Nicolas Mueller, who is amongst top 20 in PSA rankings, but Pakistan has a golden chance of beating them and move into round of 16.

Sharing his views with The Nation, head coach Faheem Gul said he was satisfied with his team’s performance keeping in mind they were up against mighty Egyptians. “Yes, we lost 3-0, but it didn’t mean that we are finished. It was great efforts from the boys and it gave them precious experience which would help them in next matches. We are completely aware of the situation and will beat Switzerland to seal second place in the group and place in the 16. Zaman is playing superbly, while Shahjahan played third game brilliantly and Ammad will also settle down well in the next match.”

The World Squash Federation (WSF) must take notice of highly pathetic condition of the venue, where the match referees were not provided proper sitting arrangements while the journalists and spectators have to stand for hours to cover and witness the matches.

What was the purpose of holding the mega event at such a place, where not even handful spectators could be adjusted and the referees have to use make-shift chairs and that too at a place where they couldn’t have clear view of the ongoing matches and to make the things worse, the WSF didn’t have any option left now as the event has got underway. Why the WSF has been keeping its eyes closed and why they didn’t send any scout to monitor the exact nature of the venue?

The administration has been minting money with both hands, as they are charging massive Euro 15 guttings of rackets, Euro 4 for grips and Euro 40 are being charged from the players, who don’t have their own guttings with them, while only one drinking water bottle was made available to the players and that too for only 3 players and coach, while the fourth player and manager was denied the facility and were told to pay, if they need water.

The venue is not worth of hosting even cub level matches, so instead of awarding such mega event, it seems the WSF didn’t bother to pay any heed towards ensuring minimum facilities for the players and spectators but they have set top priority towards facilitating the club management, as last time, the event was postponed due to security issues in Egypt and this time around, the WSF wanted to conduct the event at any cost, so they completely ignored simple facts and let the event held at such dreadful place.