ISLAMABAD  -  The 11-member Pakistan squash contingent will depart for Jakarta on late Friday night to participate in the Asian Games 2018.

Talking to The Nation, Flight Lieutenant Aamir Iqbal, who is Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) Game Development Officer, said: “The male and female players have been given the best possible training for more than two months under top coaches available in country. We had requested POA to ensure 12-member contingent, including one trainer, but they allowed only nine, while the federation is bearing expenses of two players including Riffat Khan and Amna Fayyaz as we have dropped trainer M Kashif.”

He said that Pakistani players will take part in men and women individual and team events. “The male team includes Tayyab Aslam, Ammad Fareed, Israr Ahmed and Asim Khan, while female players are Faiza Zafar, Madina Zafar, Riffat Khan and Amna Fayyaz. Group Captain Tahir Sultan will accompany the team as manager while Fazal Shah and M Naeem as coaches. We have given players extraordinary training at Pakistan National Squash Academy Islamabad and we are optimistic about their chances in the mega event.”

He said the federation is expecting gold in team event, as the green shirts are fourth seeded and placed in Pool A alongside top seeds Hong Kong, Nepal, Japan, Korea and Philippines. “As far as draw is concerned, we will play semifinals at least and it also assures a medal. But we are expecting gold in men’s team event.

“We are expecting the same in the female category. We have sent a very balanced and powerful ladies squad, which has done wonders back home in back-to-back PSA events, allocated to Pakistan in recent months. Amna Fayyaz was selected on her superb performances in Islamabad event, where she finished third and also won bronze medal in the Malaysian event. We had sent three players in Asian individual event, so this time, we have sent four female players like males,” he added.

He said in individual male category, Tayyab Aslam is capable of winning gold for the country. “We have selected the best available four players through trials. In the present circumstances, they are the best and we are highly hopeful that they will deliver.”

He said in the past, females had always demanded to provide them chances to represent the country and also asked for PSA events to improve their international rankings. “I can easily claim that ever since present management took over two years back, we have given equal opportunities to female players, gave them international exposure, ensured PSA events in Pakistan and also sent them in Commonwealth Games and other international events. Off course, squash has changed with the passage of time and we have provided top class training under top coaches and also invited M Yasin especially from UK to help our players.”

When pointed out that every team has a trainer with them, who helps players a lot but only Pakistan team is trainer-less, Aamir said: “As I mentioned before, we wanted to send Kashif as trainer, but the POA refused to entertain while lack of funds also forced us to drop him.” When asked why two coaches were sent with the team instead of one, as it can help in bringing trainer with team, Aamir said: “Actually, Naeem trained players in Lahore. He is from SNGPL and highly qualified coach and players need coaches to accompany them. As far as the federation is concerned, we fulfilled our responsibilities and gave everything the players demanded. Now it’s their turn to pay back in the best possible fashion.”