ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz has revealed that 10 foreign players have confirmed their entries for the $25,000 Chief of Army Staff (COAS) International Squash Championship 2016.

Talking to The Nation, Amir said: “It is quite heartening that within two days of opening of entries, such overwhelming response was witnessed, which clearly shows that international players and PSA have full believe in the PSF efforts and the players in particular have been feeling quite comfortable to travel to Pakistan and take part in international events here.”

He said the federation had revived the COAS Championship after a gap of almost a decade, as the last COAS championship was held in 2007, when international players had no fear of security. “We are quite hopeful that the number will rise by the time entries date closes on August 2. So far we have received confirmation from USA, Egypt, Australia, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Kuwait, Ireland and Indian players, while we are also expecting from the players of Malaysia, Hong Kong and other countries.”

He said as the deadline had been approaching, the higher ranked players would have been entering their names and the seeds position would be changed accordingly. “We are in constant touch with PSA and World Squash Federation (WSF). We have to conduct four PSA $25,000 tournaments starting from September to December. We have registered three tournaments namely COAS, then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and then Chief of Air Staff (CAS), while we have requested the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry to take the fourth event in December. The negotiations are going well with the IPC as we had written letter to them in this regard. Hopefully, they will own the event.”

When asked about had the federation dropped President Gold Cup event from their calendar, Amir replied: “No, options are wide open and we will talk to President House and Prime Minister House. If they agree, we will register the 4th $25,000 PSA event with either President or Prime Minister Gold Cup.”

To a query regarding realistic chances of Pakistani players in the COAS Championship, Amir said: “For the past two or three months, our players have been performing exceptionally. Farhan Zaman, Farhan Mehboob, Tayyab Aslam, Israr Ahmed and Asim Khan are our main hopes, while we have a few surprises in store as well.”

When asked about the latest situation regarding Nasir Iqbal’s long saga, Amir said: “We are in close contact with the World Squash Federation and hopefully, the issue of Nasir regarding banned substance will be resolved. If Nasir is cleared soon, Pakistani hopes of winning the COAS title will get huge boost.”

Replying to a query regarding convincing Aamir Atlas Khan and Danish Atlas Khan to return back to Pakistan from USA, Amir said: “We have time and again assured if Aamir and Danish will come back, the federation will provide them everything they want. Aamir has made the country proud and we fully acknowledged his achievements and ready to give him full respect. Now the ball is in Aamir’s court, as if he returns home and join Pakistan National Squash Academy, he will be able to utilise all benefits.”

To a query regarding Pakistan team’s chances in the World Juniors, Amir said: “Under the coaching of Amjed Khan, I am hopeful Israr, Abbas Shoukat, Mehran Javed and Ahsan Ayaz will perform well in the mega event. Kashif Asif is also playing in individuals and Sadia Gul will be playing for the very first time in the female category. The team will depart to Poland on August 4 and the event will start on August 7. Amjed will accompany the team as coach and Qamar Zaman as manager.”