ISLAMABAD -  The 4-member Pakistan junior squash team along with head coach Amjed Khan left for Hong Kong in the wee hours of Monday to feature in the Asian Junior Team Squash Championship beginning from February 1.

Pakistan team includes Mansoor Zaman, Abdul Malik, Abbas Zeb and Mehran Javed, while former world number 8 Amjed Khan is the coach. Talking to The Nation, Amjed said: “I am bringing completely fresh team with me, as all the members of the team are first timers, but let me assure all, although we are seeded 4th behind top seeds India, second seeds Malaysia and third seeds hosts Hong Kong, yet it is in fact blessing in disguise that there is absolutely no pressure on Pakistan team. We were the losing finalists last time, but this time we have prepared well and the boys have not taken a single days rest and trained on Sundays as well, which clearly indicates how determined they to win the championship.”

Amjed said as a former player and coach, he wanted to say a big thanks to Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) president Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, who was taking keen interest in the revival of the game. “The boys were provided the best facilities, training, gym and physios, which were never available to the former players. This generation is very lucky that the federation is taking good care of them, arranging international matches, sending them for PSA tournaments, providing them with jobs and so many other facilities, while we had to do everything at our own.

“If the players don’t perform and win laurels for the country, they must be blamed for failure, as the federation can only provide facilities, training, coaching, best meal, accommodation while the coaches can’t play for the players, as it is the player, who himself has to perform in the court,” he added.

PSF honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz said he was quite hopeful of positive results from the junior team. “Yes, they are completely inexperienced as far as international exposure is concerned but we have given them state-of-the-art training under top coaches. I am sure they will fight for the glory and will return holding their heads high.”

Top seed Mansoor Zaman Junior said he was a poor background, but the federation not only provided him with an opportunity to play at the highest level, but also bore expenses for his education and that too at prime institution. “I know we are all determined to defy odds and return as champions once again.”

Abbas Zaib said it was a golden opportunity for all the players to show the world that Pakistan was real champion of squash. “We have trained very hard and that too under highly tough conditions. We didn’t take rest for a day and trained very hard to achieve the goal. Although the competition would be tough, yet we will pose serious challenge for the top honours.”

Mehran Javed said he would do whatever he could to ensure Pakistan remained on top. “If given chance of playing against any given player, I will give more than 100 percent. I love to absolve pressure and I will prove that we are genuine title contenders.”