Monday, March 27, 2023

Mostafa Asal takes swipe at ‘jealous’, ‘aggressive’ fellow squash tour pros

Egypt’s Mostafa Asal has broken his silence on the circumstances which propelled him to the World No.1 ranking he so cherished, as he lambasted recent conduct and comments from his fellow tour players which had left a “bad taste” on the game.

Speaking with Squash Mad, Asal, the game’s biggest name and most controversial of recent times, has:

Asal said: “Firstly I have to say Victor is an amazing player but unfortunately there is a problem. Victor is 23 and he is jealous. He is older than me (Asal is 21) and it is so disappointing that he should say the things he did.

“In the ToC when I was struggling at the end of the match he could see that I was unwell, something that was obvious when I played Pat Rooney in the previous round, but Victor, not once did he ask me: ‘How are you, are you okay?’  

“He saw the medical people with me but he showed no interest in how I was. In Houston when Marwan retired I made sure I asked him how he was and showed my concern, from Victor I got nothing.

Victor Crouin
Rising Frenchman Victor Crouin celebrates

“I must say again, he has just beaten me and he knows I am unwell but he showed no interest and that was sad for me.

“I had played Victor four times before New York and he couldn’t take more than five points a game in two of these and never won a game, so for me it all left a bad taste. Instead of making comments about me he should work on himself. What is also sad for me is that Victor’s comments are similar to other stuff I have experienced.”

Turning his attention to Crouin’s claims that he had been bereft of congratulations from his fellow pros when he became No.1 on Jan 15 after his victory over Marwan El Shorbagy in ‘that match’ in Houston, Asal minced no words.

Asal countered: “I see that he also mentioned no one congratulated me on going No.1, well I can say for sure that Victor Crouin certainly did not congratulate me in this regard but I am now a history maker and maybe Victor doesn’t like that.

“I look at the other players and they are all in their late 20s, maybe some in their 30s, and I am 21, if I stopped now I can easily come back and they will have gone.

“To be at the top of the mountain now and No.1 when I got there in a bad situation off the court for me, when things have been tougher than you will ever know, and if not one other player has congratulated me, then I know I have the mental strength and the character to come through whatever.

“But I have to say that some players did congratulate me in private if not on social media. Mohamed El Shorbagy was kind enough to congratulate me in person in Houston after our match and that meant a lot.”

Mostafa Asal beat Marwan ElShorbagy at Houston Open semis PIC: PSA/Collin Poon Kong

While the World No.1 has elected, up until now, to keep his powder dry over his clash with Marwan El Shorbagy, Asal admitted that his fellow compatriot’s play was “very aggressive”.

The Egyptian said: “People do not know what happened in Houston and this is a big, big problem. What happened with Marwan El Shorbagy in our match was unbelievable, he was playing in a way I have never seen with arms everywhere from the beginning.

“He really was fired up to give me a hard time and stop me going No.1 and I felt he wanted to psyche me out mentally but that was hard to see from outside the court.

“He did everything to stop me and then at the end I am up 2-0 but he is 10-4 in the third and mentally I was starting to focus on going into a fourth game, then suddenly he is screaming on the floor.

“I was like what are you doing? It was embarrassing for the sport – he was winning the game, unbelievable! All of that makes me even stronger as even with this stuff he could not beat me. 

“But you know off the court I still asked Marwan if he was okay, I did show my concern as at the end of the day it is a sport and we are human beings with emotions, so I checked on him.”

Asal is now at home in Cairo recovering from the flu virus that forced him to scratch against Crouin in NYC, but admitted there is one reason why he will never forget this trip to the US.

Asal said: “At the end of the day I had no choice but to call it against Victor and while that was very disappointing I am happy with my trip and the fact I got to World No.1 in Houston is something I will always remember and something no one can ever take away from me.”

In part two of our interview next week, Asal discusses:

Following in the footsteps of Jahangir and Jansher Khan and bringing the noise to squash.

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  1. It is sad that in our beautiful sport, the newly crowned World No 1 is already controversial. Asal has a lot of respect for Mohammad Shorbagy. Maybe, he can do some mental coaching. Otherwise, I fear Asal will burn out very quickly.

  2. This guy is delusional ! Everyone is wrong and he is right ,,,,, no Asal ! Everyone is right and you are wrong pal ,,, cheat , blocker , disrespectful , dangerous , you need to try another sport you are not welcome in squash by any body but the promoters ,, cash cow that’s all you are .

  3. Delusional indeed. More clinically put, showing a classic pattern of narcissistic, antisocial behavior—all about himself, rule abiding conduct be damned. No one wants to take his No. 1 away, but everyone wants him to play great and fair squash.

    Also contrary to his opinion, anyone who watched the Houston match replay with Marwan got a very clear picture of what happened. Asal was all over Marwan most of the match, encroaching his space, blocking, and finally playing dangerously—crowding and pressing up behind his opponent so much it looked more like he wanted to initiate a sex act than play squash.

    I asked a former PSA player (Egyptian), off the record, their view of Asal, and got a “neutral” refusal to take a stand, except to say that Asal plays immaturely, “like a junior”—about as charitable as it can be accurately stated. But as a 21 year old professional at an elite level that is a pathetic excuse for an ongoing pattern of poor, and worse, behavior.

    If Mr. Asal wants to be respected by his fellow players and fans of the game he should grow up and behave like a professional. Until then, he’s just a talented jerk (DB in NJ parlance) with no business in the game.

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