Naseem Akhtar ready to defend his national U21 title

KARACHI: Pakistan’s U18 IBSF champion Naseem Akhtar will be looking to defend his title at the Jubilee Insurance 10th National Junior U21 Snooker Championship starting in January at Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.

The Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) released their calendar for 2018 during a press conference on Tuesday, and the first two events of the year will take place in the first week on January for the juniors — the U16 and U21 competitions.

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A total of 34 players will be competing in the U21 championship in eight groups. The prize money is set at Rs50,000, and Naseem, who became the first Pakistani to win the IBSF U18 championship and turned out to be the best young player in 2017 winning both U18 and U21 events, is ready to defend his national title.

“I’m training as hard as I can,” Naseem told The Express Tribune from his home town in Sahiwal. “I’ll be playing in the U21 this time and I’m skipping U18, but that means there is more competition for me. The upcoming players are all very dedicated, so I need to make sure that I start my year on a high. I definitely want to defend my U21 title and win it second time in a row. I’m training eight hours a day; I’m not taking the national championship lightly.”

The U21 championship will begin on January 13, while the U18 event will start from January 6 with players to report at the venue a day before.

Similarly, the National masters’ championship will begin on January 27 in Lahore with 32 players giving Imran Shehzad a run for his money as he will vie to defend his title.

PBSA officials and Jubilee Insurance heads including Muhammad Irfan Motan, Alamgir Shaikh, Managing Director Jubilee General Tahir Ahmed, Marketing Head Jubilee Life Syed Usman Qaiser, Munawwar Hussain Shaikh and Zulfiqar Ramzi addressed the press conference and announced the calendar, which has 20 events so far.


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