Pool A:  England,  South Africa, [13/18] Kuwait, [19/22] Austria
England goes into this tournament as raging favourite for a very good
reason. They the only team to have all players ranked in the top 12 (the
seedings were taken off the November rankings, so wherever a ranking
is quoted it’ll refer to November’s figures). Three of the
Australian team members have achieved this at some point in their career,
but two of the English team have been #1 and all of them have reached
career highs of 5 or better. Four players who in the last twelve months
have all been ranked at least 5 – that’s bloody tough to
beat. Their average ranking is 7. The nearest team to that is Egypt at
14 and Australia at 18. It’s unlikely a team of this experience
will have any difficulties going into a tournament with the extra pressure
of being favourites.
England is one of only three teams that have fielded a team for every
World Team Championships (along with Australia and New Zealand). They’ve
won the event four times (two as Great Britain) and have always finished
at least fourth. In Vienna they were dramatically dumped out of the tournament
in the semi finals by France in a much publicized encounter (the footage
of which can still be viewed on Guide-to-squash.org, but the single camera
at the back of the court misses much of the drama and gamesmanship, and
if anyone tells you it was blown out of proportion then they should speak
to someone who viewed the match). England is fielding the exact same
team as the one that was beaten in Vienna and the memory of that event
should provide ample motivation.
South Africa has replaced two players, perennial master’s champion
Craig Van Den Wath and Adrian Hansen with Mike Toothill and Clinton Leeuw.
SA’s best result to date is third, but that came in 1969 when there
were only six teams competing. In Vienna they finished behind Scotland
in the pool stage and lost to Egypt in the quarterfinals to finish eighth
overall. A smart South African coach won’t waste a single drop
of sweat or unnecessary motivation trying to beat England in the pool
event (or even playing their strongest team). They should concentrate
on ensuring something horrid doesn’t happen like a loss to Kuwait,
and save their reserves for their quarterfinal hurdle.
Kuwait and Austria.
Kuwait’s best result was easily coming 20th in Vienna (coming
10th out of 10 teams in 1976 doesn’t count). Austria came a disappointing
21st as the host nation last time and arrive with three new players.
The major goal for both of these teams should be to ignore England completely
and try to cause a major upset of South Africa to come second in the
Only three or four teams in this competition can give England a real
challenge and it won’t (and shouldn’t if the coaches play
their cards right) come from the pool rounds. The excitement of this
pool will begin if Kuwait or Austria can take the challenge to South
Africa, although they’ve got a tough task.
Greg La Mude
Abdullah Al Mezayen
Bader Al Hussaini
Nasser Al Ramzi
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