Maniam: Veteran Nafiizwan can spring a surprise or two

KUALA LUMPUR: National squash stars Nafiizwan Adnan (pic) and Low Wee Wern will spearhead Malaysia’s men and women’s challenges in the Asian Individual Championships at the National Squash Centre here from May 1-5.

The 33-year-old Nafiizwan has proven that he is capable of upsetting the odds by taking home the bronze medals at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the Common­wealth Games in Australia last year.

He also played an integral role in leading the men’s team of Ivan Yuen, Ng Eain Yow and Mohd Syafiq Kamal to the gold at the Asiad.

Now the sixth seeded Malaysian, who won the Asian title in 2011 in Penang by beating compatriot Ong Beng Hee, is hoping to repeat that feat next week.

Nafiizwan, who received a first-round bye, is slated to meet world No.10 and the top seeded Saurav Ghosal of India in the quarter-finals.

And Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam believes the veteran is capable of pulling off an upset.

“Nafiizwan has beaten him (Saurav) before which indicates that he has the game to beat the Indian player,” said Maniam.

“Saurav is playing very well now and his ranking shows it, but if Nafiizwan believes in himself then he has a chance to get a win.”

Malaysia’s next best hope for the Asian title is new national No. 1 and seventh seed Eain Yow who should take on Max Lee of Hong Kong in the last eight.

Eighth seeded Ivan has drawn tougher opposition in fourth seeded Leo Au of Hong Kong in the quarter-finals.

“In all three cases, we’re the underdogs by virtue of the rankings but I certainly hope we’re not the underdogs by virtue of our desire to win and I believe we can see at least one player in the semi-final,” said Maniam.

The other three Malaysian men in the draw are Syafiq, Addeen Idrakie and Ong Sai Hung.

In the absence of nine-time Asian champion Nicol David, former world No. 5 Wee Wern will lead the Malaysian women’s contingent of S. Sivasangari, Aifa Azman, Rachel Arnold, Chan Yiwen and Lai Wen Li.

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