GEORGE TOWN: The race to earn a spot in the men’s squash team for the Asian and Commonwealth Games is wide open following Mohd Asyraf Azan’s unavailability.
The 25-year-old Asyraf is the third-ranked national player at No. 62 in the world, behind veteran Ong Beng Hee (No. 27) and Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (No. 34).
However, the Selangor-born player is serving a six-month suspension, meted out by the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) for indiscipline, thus effectively ruling him out of the Commonwealth (July 23-Aug 3) and Asian (Sep 19-Oct 4) Games.
The temperamental Asyraf was slapped with the ban by the SRAM disciplinary committee in January for his poor discipline during the Men’s World Team Championship in France last year.
Then, Asyraf was seen on global live stream walking off the court without even bothering to acknowledge his opponent - India’s Mahesh Mangaokar, after a poor defeat.
It is learned that one of the key criteria for SRAM’s selection will be the Asian Team Championship, from June 11-15 in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Asyraf will still be serving his suspension then.
With Asyraf’s inability, national No. 4 Ivan Yuen is almost certain to be in the team.
Ivan, who is ranked No. 65 in the world, boosted his chances last Thursday when he won his third title of the year – the NSC Series No. 2, beating Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz Fung 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6.
Ivan, who also played in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, earning a team silver, is currently unbeaten for the year.
The fourth and final slot in the team should be decided among youngsters Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Sanjay Singh Chal, Mohd Hannan Tarmidi, Valentino Bon Jovi Bong, Mohd Syafiq Kamal and Gurshan Singh via a selection trial.