Mohammed al Joakar is keen to improve on his quarter-final appearance at the last Asian Snooker Championship when the tournament begins in Thailand today. Al Joakar reached the last eight in China last year before falling 5-1 to losing finalist Shi Hanqing, and he is confident of going one step further this time at the event in Chanthaburi.
"We have been preparing well for the tournament," said al Joakar, who will start his campaign tomorrow morning with a match against Yutaka Fukuda of Japan, an opponent he beat 4-0 in the group stages last year. "We feel ready and hopefully we will do something. Last year I reached the quarter-final and am hoping to do better this year. I will do my best." Al Joakar has been drawn in Group C, which is headed by Supoj Saenla of Thailand and also includes Singapore's Peter Gilchrist and Basem Aboud of Syria.
As he waits for his first match, al Joakar will be out today cheering for his compatriot Mohammed Shehab, the fourth seed who meets Nader Khan Sultani of Afghanistan in his opening match today. "Shehab has also been looking good in practice," added al Joakar. "So everything is going well and hopefully we will get some good results." Meanwhile, India's No 1, Pankaj Advani, has pulled out of the championship citing "personal reasons".
Advani was placed at the top of Group H. His place will be taken by Saurav Kothari. firstname.lastname@example.org