PETALING JAYA: As expected, national No. 3 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan has been selected by the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) to lead the men’s team to the Asian championships in Kuwait from May 1-5.
Reigning Asian champion Nafiizwan will spearhead the team following the decision of Mohd Azlan Iskandar and Ong Beng Hee to skip the meet.
Azlan suffered an injury during the KL Open last month and has ruled himself out until September while the evergreen Beng Hee has opted to focus on the professional tour and allow the younger players a chance to compete.
In their absence, youngsters Mohd Asyraf Azan, Ivan Yuen and Kamran Khan have been roped into the team.
The trio are currently ranked No 61, 62 and 63 in the world respectively and are seen as the future of the country’s squash ambitions.
“It is unfortunate that Azlan and Beng Hee are unavailable but it will give the younger players a chance to perform,” said SRAM secretary and general manager Christopher Brodie.
“Asyraf, Ivan and Kamran are chosen based on their rankings and, hopefully, they’ll live up to expectations.”
Malaysia last won the men’s team title in 2008 and finished as runners-up to Pakistan two years later.
Now, it will be more difficult for Malaysia do well in the Asian meet following the emergence of Hong Kong as a force to be reckoned with.
Hong Kong had two players – Max Lee and Leo Au – in the quarter-finals of the KL Open last month and Leo in particular was impressive as he came through the qualifying rounds after defeating several higher ranked players.
Asyraf and Kamran both failed to reach the main draw while Ivan, who was handed a wildcard, was a first round casualty despite an impressive start against the veteran Adrian Grant.
Meanwhile, in the women’s event, world No.13 and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern will spearhead the team in the absence of world No. 1 Nicol David.
Nicol has opted to skip the Asian meet to concentrate on the prestigious British Open which has found its way back into the calendar for the first time since 2009 after encountering financial problems.
Joining Wee Wern in the team will be Delia Arnold and Siti Munirah Jusoh while the reserve slot will be decided between Zuhijjah Azan and P. Pushppa Devi later this week.