x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Joker left frustrated after exit

Defeat at the hands of Australia means UAE head home with worst record at snooker World Cup.

Mohammed Al Joker plays against Australia at the snooker World Cup in Bangkok yesterday. The UAE lost 4-1 to head out of the tournament.
Mohammed Al Joker plays against Australia at the snooker World Cup in Bangkok yesterday. The UAE lost 4-1 to head out of the tournament.

Mohammed Al Joker acknowledged that he and Mohammed Shehab had not played to their potential after the UAE finished their World Cup campaign with a 4-1 defeat against Australia in Bangkok on Friday.

The UAE won only four of the 20 frames in which they competed, the fewest of the 20 teams participating in the tournament. The tally sheet shows losses to Thailand A (4-1), China (3-2) and Malta (5-0) in their earlier matches. They also suffered one of the two whitewashes of the World Cup, the other being Egypt at the hands of Wales.

"We did not perform at our best and we are not really satisfied with our performance," Al Joker said.

"We know it would have been very difficult to qualify, if not possible, but if we had played our game we would have got much better results."

The UAE seemed headed for their second consecutive whitewash yesterday as Neil Robertson defeated Shehab 66-1 and Steve Mifsud blanked Al Joker 88-0.

The Aussies then won the doubles 77-1.

Shehab, however, saved the team from that ignominy.

After winning just two points from their first three frames, he outmanoeuvred Mifsud 78-49 for his second singles victory of the World Cup.

At 40-40, a snooker by Shehab earned him 24 points in penalties and that all but decided the fate of the frame.

Al Joker also did better in the final frame and could have been harbouring dreams of an upset until, with only the colours remaining, the black popped out of the pocket and off the table.

Robertson than cleaned up for a 63-45 win.

"In the first two frames, we did not get any chance to play," Al Joker said.

"They came up with 50-plus breaks in each of the first three frames, and that usually is enough."

The win confirmed fifth-seeded Australia's place in the last-eight, and Robertson is hoping they can go much further in the tournament.

"Last time there was a snooker World Cup [in 1996], Australia got to the quarter-finals," he was quoted as saying on the worldsnooker.com.

"So, hopefully, we can go one step further.

"We've played in the hardest group, and it doesn't matter who we play now. We're going to enjoy the tournament and take what we can.

"At the start of the day we knew we needed three frames to force a play-off, in the worst case, so 4-1 was the result we wanted.

"Steve and I played perfectly for the first three frames, Steve had a nervy one in the fourth and I had one in the fifth."

Afghanistan will also be returning home early after failing to make the knockout stages, but they will cherish a 4-1 win over Poland on Thursday and Mohammed Saleh's surprise 82-14 victory over John Higgins, the reigning world champion, when they faced Scotland.

"John Higgins, Mark Selby and Mark Allen are all my favourite players," Saleh said.

"When I saw all these professionals here I was afraid for us.

"But we're very proud to play here, and so happy to do well.

"I was so happy to play against John Higgins, and this is the first time I've played against him."