Switzerland throw Pakistan out of World Team Squash event

MARSEILLE – Pakistan bowed out of the contention for the place in round 16 of the 25th WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship, as they were hammered 3-0 by Switzerland in the must win Pool-A match played here at Modern Squash Club on late Wednesday night.

Pakistan were seeded 17th in the championship, while Swiss enjoyed a place better seeding, but keeping in mind training and how well Pakistanis played against top seeds Egyptians, Pakistan were firm favourites to win the encounter and set up a date with world champions England in last 16. Farhan Zaman was carrying nation’s hopes against Swiss number 1 Nicolas Mueller, who is among top 20 in PSA rankings. The only thing that separates two players was determination and hunger, as Zaman was no lesser than Mueller, but after committing 24 unforced errors, nobody can expect miracles.

The body language of Zaman was also highly questionable, as he hit 24 tins in the match, which was the main reason behind his loss, while highly questionable refereeing and that too at critical stages of the match also did no favour to the Pakistani. The first game started with Zaman nowhere in the match, as he was playing like a school-going kid. It was not Mueller, who was playing exceptionally, but it was Zaman, who was gifting points to the opponent, as Mueller wrapped up the first game 11-3 in just 8 minutes.

Zaman was looking nervous and was paying too much respect to his opponent, who was also looking highly surprised to witness such childish mistakes and that too on consistent basis. Mueller raced on to take 4-0 lead, then made it 9-4, but at that stage, being buck up by thin Pakistani crowd, mainly based on fellow players and officials of Pakistani contingent, Zaman, all of a sudden, found lost touch and first closed the gap to make it 9-9, then it was 10-9 and he was serving for the game, as he won 6 points in a row, but once again, when it mattered the most, Zaman hit tin to level the game at 10-10 and then highly dubious referee’s call made it 11-10 in favour of Mueller and another highly controversial call gifted the second game 12-10 to Mueller.

The third game started with Mueller leading 3-0 and curtains were looking down for Zaman, but he once again staged tremendous comeback as he first levelled the game at 3-3, and then took the game 11-9. He hit 4 tins in the game, but it didn’t stopp him from taking the game. Zaman was looking sharp in the fourth game, while Mueller was looking a bit exhausted and stunned. Zaman started hitting tins again which helped Mueller win the game 11-9. The victory gave Swiss perfect 1-0 start.

Ammad Fareed was picked to play the second match, which was do-or-die. As far as Pakistan was concerned against Dimitri Steinmann, it turned out to be no contest at all, as Dimitri was playing aggressively, while Ammad was looking just a meager spectator. Dimitri took the first game 11-5, but Ammad bounced back to take the second 11-9. But it was all that Ammad could take from the match, as Dimitri won the third game 11-3 and shut the doors by winning fourth game 11-4 to take Switzerland to round of 16. In the dead rubber, Asim Khan took 2-1 lead but then he simply blew away the lead and gifted the match to Dimitri Steinmann. Asim lost first game 6-11, but won the second game 11-7 and third 11-9, but after playing so well, Asim just lost next two games 7-11 and 8-11 to end the night on a lower note.

It is high time when the PSF must take all things into account and invest on those players, who want to play for honour of the country and their self respect, not for money, or else, they should only play events in Islamabad. There is no need of sending players for international events, who don’t know the meaning of ‘playing for motherland’.

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