England placed on “amber alert” for World Team trip to Cairo
By ALAN THATCHER
The Men’s World Team Championship goes ahead in Egypt next month against a backdrop of security fears which forced many nations to review their involvement in the tournament.
Initial squads for the 25th biennial World Squash Federation championship, which will take place at the Al Ahly Club in Cairo from December 12-18, have been confirmed by the WSF today – as has the participation of New Zealand, after earlier withdrawing from the Championship.
The seedings for the Championship are due to be released on November 30, while final squad orders are submitted on the eve of the event.
Defending champions England (pictured above after winning the 2013 title) will be led by world No.2 Nick Matthew, supported by Daryl Selby (world No.16), James Willstrop (No.24) and event debutant Chris Simpson (No.23).
Hosts Egypt, however, boast a formidable four-man squad comprising players from within the world top 12 – featuring world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, No.3 Ramy Ashour, No.6 Omar Mosaad and No.12 Tarek Momen.
However, Ashour must be rated as doubtful after limping off court with an aggravated hamstring injury after losing in the quarter-finals of the World Championship in Seattle.
Former champions Australia will present a line-up including two world top 20 players – Cameron Pilley (19) and Ryan Cuskelly (20) – while twice runners-up France have a line-up including two world top ten players, Gregory Gaultier (3) and Mathieu Castagnet (8).
Kuwait have withdrawn from the event following the suspension of their National Olympic Committee by the IOC as the opportunity to compete under the WSF flag was declined.
The full list of participating nations is: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, India, Iraq, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Qatar, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland and USA.
Several nations, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain and Wales, will not be competing.
The event is scheduled to go ahead against a backdrop of security fears following the terrorist attacks in France, and the bombing last month of a passenger jet over the Sinai Desert en route from the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh bound for Russia.
In Tunisia, 38 holidaymakers, including 30 Britons, were murdered in July when a gunman opened fire on a hotel beach.
Cairo itself has been an unstable city in recent years following waves of political turmoil, but the Egyptian government is desperate to show that it can safely host major tournaments such as this.
Last weekend’s attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people, proved that terrorist group ISIS is targeting sports and entertainment venues, with three bombs detonated outside the Stade De France and the indiscriminate murder of 89 concert-goers at the Bataclan theatre. Dozens more were injured in the Bataclan attack.
Security fears prompted the cancellation of Tuesday’s international football match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hanover. According to shared intelligence between France and Germany, a terror cell had planned to detonate five bombs, including three inside the football stadium, one at a bus stop and one at a railway station.
Belgium, now believed to be a haven for radical Muslims recruiting members for ISIS, has placed Brussels on lockdown, cancelling sports and entertainment events while the hunt goes on for one of the alleged ringleaders of the Paris attack.
In tennis, the GB team have delayed their trip to Belgium to compete in next week’s Davis Cup final in Ghent, 35 miles from Brussels, because of the high level of alert amid fears of an attack.
The International Tennis Federation said it was “greatly concerned” by the Belgian government’s decision to raise the terror alert for Brussels.
With squash such a high-profile sport in Egypt, second in popularity only to football, security will be stepped up at the airport and the Al Ahly Club venue.
Most competing national federations have taken security advice from their governments, with the UK Foreign Office telling England Squash that travel to Egypt is rated as an “amber alert” status.
2015 World Team Championships, Cairo, Egypt.
ARGENTINA 1 Robertino Pezzota, 2 Leandro Romiglio, 3 Rodrigo Pezzota, 4 Gonzalo Miranda
AUSTRALIA 1 Ryan Cuskelly, 2 Cameron Pilley, 3 Rex Hedrick, 4 Steven Finitsis
AUSTRIA 1 Aqeel Rehman, 2 Jakob Dirnberger, 3 Florian Mader, 4 Daniel Haider
CANADA 1 Shawn Delierre, 2 Nicholas Sachvie, 3 Michael McCue, 4 Albert Shoihet
COLOMBIA 1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 2 Andrés Herrera, 3 Erick Herrera, 4 Edgar Ramirez
EGYPT 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, 2 Ramy Ashour, 3 Omar Mosaad, 4 Tarek Momen
ENGLAND 1 Nick Matthew, 2 Daryl Selby, 3 Chris Simpson, 4 James Willstrop
FINLAND 1 Olli Tuominen, 2 Henrik Mustonen, 3 Jaakko Vahamaa, 4 Miko Äijänen
FRANCE 1 Gregory Gaultier, 2 Mathieu Castagnet, 3 Gregoire Marche, 4 Lucas Serme
GERMANY 1 Simon Rösner, 2 Raphael Kandra, 3 Jens Schoor, 4 Rudi Rohrmuller
HONG KONG CHINA 1 Max Lee, 2 Leo Au, 3 Tsz Fung Yip, 4 Chi Him Wong
INDIA 1 Saurav Ghosal, 2 Mahesh Mangaonkar, 3 Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, 4 Kush Kumar
IRAQ 1 Rassol Alsultani, 2 Mohammed Hasan, 3 Husham Abdulkareem Sabeh, 4 Faisal Assim
MALAYSIA 1 Nafiizwan Adnan, 2 Ivan Yuen, 3 Sanjay Singh Chal, 4 Mohd Syafiq Kamal
MEXICO 1 Cesar Salazar, 2 Arturo Salazar, 3 Eric Galvez, 4 Alfredo Avila
NEW ZEALAND 1 Paul Coll, 2 Campbell Grayson, 3 Martin Knight, 4 Evan Williams
PAKISTAN 1 Nasir Iqbal, 2 Farhan Zaman, 3 Danish Atlas Khan, 4 Tayyab Aslam
QATAR 1 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, 2 Syed Azlan Amjad, 3 Abdulrahman Al-Malki, 4 Abdulwahab Al-Ishaq
REPUBLIC OF KOREA 1 JaeJin Yoo, 2 Ko Youngjo, 3 Jong Myoung Park, 4 Han Dong Ryu
SCOTLAND 1 Alan Clyne, 2 Greg Lobban, 3 Douglas Kempsell, 4 Kevin Moran
SOUTH AFRICA 1 Stephen Coppinger, 2 Shaun le Roux, 3 Clinton Leeuw, 4 Thoboki Mohohlo
SWITZERLAND 1 Nicolas Müller, 2 Reiko Peter, 3 Benjamin Fischer, 4 Patrick Miescher
USA 1 Christopher Gordon, 2 Todd Harrity, 3 Chris Hanson, 4 Faraz Khan
Picture courtesy of WSF