BEIJING (Online): Young Pakistani player Muhammad Naseem Akhtar has won the International Billiard & Snooker Federation (IBSF) world under-18 championship in Beijing on Tuesday.
He defeated Chinese rival Peifan by 5-3 in the final. His highest break in the tournament was just 74 but he lost only two frames in his four knockout phase victories before the final.
That run included a 4-0 semi-final drubbing of Israeli Amir Nardeia, who compiled an event-high 119 century break and also dispatched of the defending champion Jackson Page in the last eight.
Snooker is extremely popular in Pakistan and the amateur game has been growing in the country over the last number of years. Pakistan players have emerged triumphant in the IBSF World Championship before but this win marks the first at any underage level.
Five out of the eight quarter-finalists were from the continent with a further seven Asian players featuring in the last 16 as well.
It’s very likely that the World Under-21 Championship will follow suit, with the prestigious junior title to get under way on Wednesday in the Chinese capital city, and where eight out of the last ten champions have hailed from Asia.
While Naseem will likely not gain a Main Tour card for his exploits in the younger discipline, a two-year ticket will be awarded to the under-21 champion as has been the norm in recent years.