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July 18, 2018

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Saadi says he needs ‘expert coach’

KARACHI: After losing to a Saudi Arabian fighter in the quarter-finals of the Asian Karate Championship in Jordan recently, Pakistan’s seasoned player Saadi Abbas has said that he needs an expert coach and good sparring partners to prepare for the Asian Games properly.

“What I could do I did in the Asian Championship in Jordan,” Saadi told ‘The News’ in an interview after returning from Jordan on Tuesday. “I need an expert coach and sparring partners who match my level or are above my level so that I know what my mistakes are and try to overcome them,” he added.

He said that the standard of Pakistani fighters was that of the South Asian level and doing sparring with them would never improve him.

Saadi, who fought in the -75kg competitions in the Asian Championship, lost in the quarter-final to the Saudi Arabian who then won bronze.He had won his first two fights against fighters from Qatar and Oman.

Saadi said the fighter from Qatar whom he beat had ended seventh in the last World Championships. He said he was also not outclassed by the player from Saudi Arabia. “I fought hard against the Saudi Arabian fighter. He did not dominate the fight. But you know Saudi Arabia has an Egyptian coach Mohammad Abdul Fattah, who is one of the leading coaches of the world and that definitely helped my opponent,” Saadi said.

He conceded that he could not give his hundred percent in the Asian Championship but claimed he had still one month at his disposal ahead of the Asian Games and would work harder to overcome his weaknesses.

Pakistani fighters are expected to be sent to Turkey for a two-week training ahead of the Asiad, an event which will feature world and Olympic champions.Saadi has claimed one gold and two bronze in the Asian Championship, but taking a medal in the Asian Games will be a bigger achievement.

Saadi said if Pakistan toured Turkey before the Asiad then there would be a need to hire the same Turkish coach with whom they would train there for the Asian Games.

“It would be good if he remained with us during Asian Games also. An expert’s presence with a fighter is necessary. It helps the fighter change his tactics during the fight,” said Saadi, who stays and plays in Dubai.

Others in the squad for the Asian Championship were Naseer Ahmed (-67kg), Zafar Iqbal (-60kg), Mohammad Kashif (-55kg), Israr-ul-Haq (individual kata), Kulsoom (-68kg) and Qurat-ul-Ain (+68kg).

Naseer, a highly experienced fighter, lost his first fight in Jordan. After returning to Lahore from Jordan, the fighters went straight to Islamabad to join the camp which has been set up at the Pakistan Sports Complex for the Asian Games.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Karate Federation’s (PKF) chairman Mohammad Jehangir said he was not happy with the performance of his side in the Jordan event. “Our performance was not good and we now need a foreign tour to prepare for the Asian Games,” Jehangir told this correspondent from Lahore.

“Saadi was our main hope but unfortunately he also could not get a medal,” he added. “Jordan got two gold, Iran claimed three gold and Japan were the best with six gold. Saudi Arabia’s three fighters had reached the finals. The sport is fast developing. We need to work harder,” Jehangir said.

However, he was quick to add that the continental event in Jordan helped them know the weak areas of the fighters. “It helped us learn about the weak areas. We will try to overcome the shortcomings before the Asiad,” the official said.

The 18th Asian Games are pencilled in for August 18 to September 2 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

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