x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bad atmosphere surrounds Shehab following defeat

Emirati 'close to breaking cue' after loss to Thailand at World Cup.

Mohammed Shehab was an angry and frustrated man last night after the UAE opened their snooker World Cup campaign with a 1-4 defeat against Thailand A in Bangkok.

James Wattana, a former world No 3, beat Shehab in the opening frame and Dechawat Poomjaeng made it 2-0 for the hosts with a comfortable win over Mohammed Al Joker.

The Emirati pair bounced back with a break of 70 to clinch the doubles, but Wattana sealed the fate of the tie with a break of 81 in the fourth frame against Al Joker.

Poomjaeng then beat Shehab in the final frame leaving the Emirati in a rage.

"I was this close to breaking my cue," Shehab said. "I was really frustrated. Deep inside, you know these guys are not better than you. I know I can beat them.

"I can do everything they can do on a table, but they have the advantage of being used to this atmosphere.

"Me and Joker have hardly played in such an atmosphere. It is a true pro circuit atmosphere here. Starting against Wattana, honestly, I did not feel settled until 20 minutes after the frame.

"I know back home nobody is expecting us to do anything in this tournament, but you still feel hurt. So if I can be honest, I am really disappointed."

The UAE face group favourites China today and Shehab acknowledged tougher times lie ahead with matches against Australia and Malta to come.

"I don't want to say it is mission impossible for the team, but it is really tough for us," he said. "It is a massive challenge. We are not lacking in the game, but we are lacking the experience of playing at this level.

"It is a great experience and all that, but you still feel hurt when you lose to someone you know is not better than you."

In the same Group B, Steve Mifsud won both his singles matches to anchor Australia to a 3-2 victory over Malta. It was the second consecutive win for the fifth seeds, who had opened with a 4-1 triumph over Thailand A.

England, the third seeds, made a winning start in Group C, with Mark Selby and Ali Carter proving too good for the Brazilian duo of Noel Rodrigues and Fabio Luersen in a 4-1 victory. "It would've been nice to win 5-0, but a win is a win and 4-1 isn't too bad," Selby said.

India recovered from their 1-4 defeat against Northern Ireland on Monday to prevail 3-2 over Belgium.

In other matches yesterday, Pakistan, who had stunned the Republic of Ireland in their opening Group A match, lost 3-2 to Germany and Wales, the top seeds, opened with a crushing 5-0 win over Egypt, while Afghanistan lost to Hong Kong in the final frame.

In Group D, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire got second seeded Scotland's campaign off to a good start with a 3-2 win.

* With agencies