ISLAMABAD-Pakistan’s top most junior player Israr Ahmed was taught a squash lesson by Egyptian Youssef Soliman in the final qualifying round match of the $25,000 12th Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) International Squash Championship 2016 here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Tuesday.

Israr started the first game on a high note, mainly due to overwhelming crowd support, but after comfortable start, he let Youssef off the hook, who won the first game 11-9. After losing the first game and getting drubbing from secretary Amir Nawaz, Israr won the second game 11-3. He was looking at the top of his game and things were looking great for Pakistani crowd, but like witnessed in the past, after taking 3-0 lead in the third game, Israr started committing error and gave full opportunity to Youssef, who went on to claim 5 points in a row, before Israr levelled the game at 5-5. It was 8-5 in favour of Youssef, but Israr once again levelled the game at 8-8, but the Egyptian then took 10-8 lead and also allowed Israr to level once again at 10-10. But after playing so well, Israr committed two childish mistakes, as he hit the ball twice into tin, which gave Youssef third game 12-10.

Israr once again dominated the fourth game in the initial part, but after that he was nowhere in the match, as Youssef took the game 11-6 to complete 3-1 victory in 58 minutes.

A complete pin drop silence was witnessed, despite Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz, Pakistan National Squash Academy (PNSA) director Air Commodore (R) Aftab Ahmed were bucking up Israr. Local players were also cheering for Israr, but to no avail, as he didn’t play out his heart and performed pathetically. It was not exceptional game by Youssef, but highly irresponsible attitude and poor game plan by Israr, who committed too many unforced errors and gave too much liberty to Egyptian.

This also left a huge question mark on the federation’s tall claims regarding top class coaching and continuous training camp for the players. After poor show in the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) International Squash Championship a few days back, the federation kept on sleeping instead of starting training of top players to ensure quality results in the event.

An old 70 plus year old coach M Yasin was installed from UK for short time coaching. The federation always works in patches rather than long-term planning which is the main reason behind Pakistan squash downfall. These make-shift coaches have destroyed Pakistan squash and no one else but present management is responsible for the debacle of squash. The federation must hire services of top professional coach and that too on long-term basis or else Pakistani players will continue to suffer in international events and past records will only be remembered in history books.

There was at least some joy for Pakistan as young gun Ahsan Ayaz continued his brilliant giant-killing run in the event, as he recorded another upset victory against top 100 PSA player Jordanian Ahmad Al-Saraj 3-0 in 40 minutes. Ahsan showed the federation that talent didn’t need much backing or outright support, despite being an ignored child, Ahsan provided locals something to cheer about. He won the first game 11-5, and faced some resistance in the second game but won it 11-9. Ahsan completed the rout in third game winning 11-6 to set up first round date with second seed Egyptian Zahid Muhammed.

Pakistan’s highly experienced and most successful player of modern era former world number 14 Farhan Mehboob was up against another local lad Sadamul Haq, who was no match to Mehboob. Veteran Mehboob took the first game 11-2, second 11-6 and third game 11-3 in just 24 minutes to set first round meeting with Netherlands Piedro Schweertman.

In the third match of the day, game dubbed as giant-killer and man of upsets Abbas Shaukat was up against Zahir Shah, but it turned out to be highly tough and competitive match. Abbas was not expecting such brave fight from Zahir, who was not in a mood to go down without a real fight. Abbas took the first game 11-9, and second 12-10. Another tough and close game was witnessed in the third game, which Abbas finally took 11-9 to win the close encounter 3-0 in 54 minutes to set up first round date with 4th seed American Todd Harrity.