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I won world title against all odds: Asif

06 December, 2012

LAHORE: Pakistan's newly-crowned world snooker champion Muhammad Asif Wednesday said no body was expecting a good show from Pakistani cueists before their departure for the World Snooker Championship due to the hard circumstances and limited resources.

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“Though all the odds were against us, I was optimistic to become the world champion due to my recent form. In the final, luck favoured me and I also grabbed all the available opportunities to reach my destiny,” Asif said in an interview with Nawai Waqat and The Nation. He described his game in the last two frames against England's Gary Wilson in his 10-8 win in the final as the best and memorable one.

A shortage of funds meant the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) had practically given up hope of sending players to the championship until a slew of personal donations allowed Asif to board the plane. The 30-year-old from Faisalabad, who had never made it beyond the last 32 of the world championship, repaid the donors' generosity with a fairytale win -- Pakistan's first in the tournament since 1994.

"I am blessed," Asif said. "It's destiny, I could not have been there at all and here I am with the world trophy, it hasn't sunk in yet. I hope my success will inspire youngsters and snooker gets the same attention as cricket and hockey."

He said playing in a Dubai tournament just before his departure to Bulgaria proved really beneficial for him despite his loss in the final of the event. “I was very pleased with my performance in the event and that gave me the confidence that I could win the world championships. By the grace of Allah I won the title with my parents and nation's prayers, I am happy and thankful to people for their prayers.”

He also thanked the Karachites for his rousing welcome on his return despite the law and order situation.

Asif revealed that Israel offered him a handsome offer to not to appear in the last match and give the Israeli player a walk-over but he rejected it at once. “I was playing for the national pride and the only thing that mattered most to me was that I would win the title after 18 years for my country and I was determined to achive that target and by the Grace of Allah, my efforts bore fruits.”

Asif said that he was jobless and still did not announce any job for him but hoped that the government would surely think about it for the promotion of the sports. He rued that despite winning two world championships and also Asian titles, there was no place for snooker players in any government department. He said that there was no dearth of talent in the country and the players could bring more laurels to the country if they got financial support.

Asif said it was necessary for PBSA to get associated with the Olympic association and the PBSA should offer the players such contracts which were acceptable to them.

“Everyone should understand that the associations are only established because there are players and without players and their performances, there is no future of an association.” Asif demanded the establishment of snooker academies and should be played at school level. He also demanded jobs for the snooker players in the government departments and stressed that it was necessary to provide all the facilities to the snooker players to keep them on the winning track.

End.