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World
Teams Vienna – Preview Part II

 

Oct
18 , 2003: by Dan Kneipp (Kah-nipe)   [Kndipps
See Preview part I – pools A-D
]

Preview – Pools
E, F, G & H (part 2 of 2)

Pool E:
[5] Canada, [12] Netherlands, [17/24] Czech Republic,

Canada
Jonathon Power 4
Graham Ryding 19
Shahier Razik 30
Viktor Berg 55

Czech Republic
Jan Koukal 73
Milos Pokorny –
Martin Stepan 154
Pavel Sladecek –

Netherlands
Tommy Berden 42
Lucas Buit –
Michael Fiteni 132
Dylan Bennett 87

This should be an interesting
pool.

Canada is the fifth and final
team that are genuine contenders for the trophy.
With Razik’s recent rise in form, and the always consistent results
of Power and
Ryding, this team on a very good day is capable of beating everyone. Ryding
would be the underdog when playing someone like Ricketts, Beachill or
Shabana,
but certainly capable of winning. Canada has played the World Team Championships
15 times, coming second in 1997 in Malaysia and 8th in Melbourne in 2001.

The Netherlands and the Czech
Republic could have a great battle for the second
place in this pool. The Dutch should win, but this match-up could be one
of the
big question marks of the pool rounds. Tommy Berden hasn’t been
able to find the
form and results that got his ranking to the low 20s. The Dutch #2, Lucas
Buit
is one of the best players when national pride is on the line. I have
no proof,
but I think he has special orange underpants that have pictures of windmills
and
cheese on it. He puts them on whenever he’s playing for the Netherlands
and
gains super powers, enabling him spectacular victories that earn him tea
and
herring with Queen Beatrix.

The team is filled out with
rising youngster Dylan Bennett, and Michael Fiteni.
Apparently Fiteni is Dutch, but it has me confused. I thought he was Scottish
because he has a very similar accent to the top Scottish player Johnny
McWhitey.
If you ever imagined what the Crocodile Hunter would sound like speaking
Dutch,
ask Mick to converse in his new tongue. He was one of the most successful
junior
players in Australia, winning numerous age group national titles, but
has now
lived and coached in the Netherlands long enough to play for the national
team.
He moves his thin, tall, wirey frame around the court beautifully, and
can
either be a laugh-riot on court, or an umpire’s nightmare.

The Dutch have played in the
tournament 10 times, with the best result 6th. They
came fourteenth in Melbourne.

This is the first time that
the Czech Republic have played in this tournament,
but they are contenders for causing an upset. Joe and I spent some time
recently
coaching their top players in Prague. If they do even slightly better
than
expected we’ll naturally take all credit. Similar to how Holland
and France were
ten to fifteen years ago, the Czech Republic is getting stronger and stronger
in
squash and some top players are coming through. The #1 Jan Koukal is ranked
71,
but capable of playing like a top 30 player. Milos Pokorny, the #2 used
to live
in the Netherlands for years and is a very handy player. The Czechs will
need a
great tournament to get past the Dutch, but it’s not impossible.

Pool F:
[6] Scotland, [11] South Africa, [17/24] USA, [25/30] Korea

Scotland
John White 3
Martin Heath 14
Peter O’Hara –
Neil Frankland –

South Africa
Rodney Durbach 30
Adrian Hansen –
Craig Van de Wath –
Greg La Mude –

USA
Preston Quick 118
Damian Walker –
Jamie Crombie 128
Tim Wyant –

Korea
Young-Joon Chung –
Dong-Woo Kim 257
Seung-Jun Lee 252
Jaung-Gue Park 257

Scotland is the tournament’s main Dark Horse. If any team is able
to win against
seeding and expectations, it’s Scotland. McWhitey can and has beaten
everyone,
but the team doesn’t have the necessary depth at three or four,
so it comes down
to the performance of Martin Heath at #2. A former top 5 player who when
his
head is in the right place (“Think squash, not girls! Squash, not
girls!”) can
be a spectacular player. If he has a good tournament, and McWhitey decides
to
put the ball in the nick 27 times, Scotland could wreak havoc.

Scotland has participated in
the World Team Champions eleven times, having their
best performance, fourth, in Melbourne 2001 – without Nicol.

South Africa is the next strongest
team in the pool, vying for the vital top two
placing. They’ve played the tournament eight times; the best result
was as hosts
in 1973 when they won bronze. In Melbourne in 2001 they came sixth. Rodney
Durbach, a PSA stalwart, leads the team. His comrades aren’t on
the pro circuit
but the #3 is the 2001 and 2003 over 35 World Champion. The South Africans
are
going to have their work cut out for them trying to beat the Scots (I
got the
impression in my last trip to the States that there this expression means
it’s
easy – everywhere else it means hard). What’s going to be more important
is to
see off the challenge of the US and secure the position in the final 16.

The US has played this tournament
an impressive 15 times. The best performance
was 5th in Johannesburg in 1973. Unfortunately they were the fifth best
at the
tournament, but also the worst – only five teams participated that
year, the
smallest ever. Coming 19th in Melbourne is probably a more accurate indication
of the country’s strength relative to the rest of the world. The
only change in
the team since then is Jamie Crombie replacing Richard Chin. The US will
have to
concentrate on beating South Africa if they want a chance of cracking
the
crucial top 16. That match is tomorrow afternoon and there will be a lot
at
stake – top 16 or not. It doesn’t make it any easier for the
US knowing that all
South Africans when playing sport seem to keep running until they are
bleeding
from either an ear or nostril, and then they only stop due to the blood
rule.
The best chance of a US upset will probably be at the #3 spot, with Tim
Wyant
being in an important position.

Korea is playing the tournament
for the first time.

Pool G:
[7] Wales, [10] Ireland, [17/24] Mexico, [25/30] Kuwait

Wales
Alex Gough 17
David Evans 35
Gavin Jones 62
Greg Tippings –

Ireland
Liam Kenny 69
Derek Ryan 74
John Rooney 81
Graeme Stewart –

Mexico
Eric Galvez 140
Jorge Baltazar –
Armando Zarazua 200
Mauricio Sanchez –

Kuwait
Bader A Alhosaini 257
Ali B Alramezi –
Zeyad T Alowayish 257
Nasser B Alramezi –

Wales are the other Dark Horse
in the equation. Gough and Evans have both beaten
virtually everyone at some stage of their career. If the two of them have
a good
tournament the team can go further than their seeding of 7. The Welsh
have
participated seven times, having their best tournament in 1999 in Cairo,
coming
2nd. They were expected to repeat that performance in Melbourne but came
9th.
The team is unchanged since Melbourne. They shouldn’t have too much
trouble
coming first in the pool, but how Evans performs will probably be the
deciding
factor.

Ireland has played the World
Teams twelve time, coming between 10th and 15th
every time. Melbourne it was 10th. Led by Liam Kenny and Derek Ryan they
should
have no problem ensuring a top two pool finish. An upset against Wales
isn’t
impossible.

Mexico played in 1997 and 2001,
coming 26th (out of 32) and 21st (out of 24).

Kuwait isn’t a country
that you think of when you think squash. Yet they have
participated in this tournament twelve times. They’ve come last,
or close to
last most times, but they’re at the tournament, which is more than
can be said
for Team Belgium, Spain, Denmark etc. Like Mexico they are expected to
be vying
for placings 17-30.

Pool H:
[8] Malaysia, [9] Pakistan, [17/24] Italy

Malaysia
Ong Beng Hee 8
Mohd Azlan Iskandar 36
Kelvin Ho 168
Timothy Arnold 170


Pakistan
Mansoor Zaman 15
Farrukh Zaman 41
Majid Khan 82
Khayal M Khan 94

Italy
Andrea Capella 158
Francesco Busi –
Andrea Torricini –
Giacomo Marotta –

Malaysia should pose a similar
threat to the top teams that Scotland and Wales
does. But Iskandar hasn’t yet had the track record that Heath or
Evans has, and
would need a great tournament to get them the crucial second win. As with
Scotland and Wales, the strength of Malaysia weakens considerably from
the
second to third positions. Malaysia has played the Championship ten times,
having their best tournament last year – 7th. Making the top 2 positions
in this
pool will be a formality.

Pakistan can also pose a volatile
threat to an unsuspecting squash nation
underestimating them. I’m not sure why they haven’t submitted
their strongest
team, leaving out Shahid Zaman, ranked 40 and replaced him instead with
Majid
Khan at 82. Like Malaysia, Pakistan’s progression through to the
top 16
tournament should be a formality. Pakistan, undoubtedly the greatest squash
nation ever has only missed one World Team Champs – Johannesburg
in 1973. They
have won the trophy 6 times, the last time being on home soil in 1993
at
Karachi.

Italy will need to find some
superhuman performance to avoid simply making up
the numbers in this pool. If they had their strongest team they would
stand a
great chance of upsetting either Malaysia or Pakistan. The inclusion of
the
Bianchetti brothers Davide and Andrea would have created a strong team.
Davide
is ranked 36 and a great player, while his brother is a respectable 130.
Without
them the team will be fighting an uphill battle to avoid the second tier
tournament. Italy has only played this tournament four times, but not
in
Melbourne in 2001. Their best result to date is sixteenth at Helsinki
in ’91.

If you’ve made it this
far through this ridiculously long and arduous preview
(number bloody three!) you’re probably Ron Beck, Rob Dinerman, Allan
Murray,
Martin Bronstein, mum, or some other squash nut I’m yet to meet.
We should form
a club.

Kneipp’s
SquashTalk Forum

Feedback:
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or comments, please email us at dan@teamkneipp.com.
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column together with our responses. We hope to get a good dialogue
started!

 

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