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Taufiq eyes top-64 berth in Doha
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Jason Koh (2nd R) and Abd Wafi Suhardi (R) in action against Singapore during their Under-15 doubles match at the 20th South East Asian Junior (SEA JR) Table Tennis Championship yesterday. BT/ Zul Zainal

Ahmad Taufiq Murni (pic) is looking to enter the top-64 of the Qatar World 9-Ball Pool Championship in Doha.

The Sultanate's top cueist will begin his campaign at the June 16-27 competition in the round of 128 on Saturday. He is coming off winning the Pro X 9-Ball open Championship 2014 after overcoming Mohd Khalid Hj Abu Bakar 10-8 in the final at the Pro X Pool House in Gadong on Sunday.

He is looking forward to the tournament in the Qatar capital at the Al Sadd Sports Club and is hoping that things go the right way. "My confidence level is okay. I just need to focus on my decision making and break shot," said Taufiq in an interview with The Brunei Times on Wednesday.

"My break shot is actually okay but it is not consistent," he said. "I will focus on my first game as I need to win that one before looking forward. My target is to make it into the top-64," continued the 25-year-old. Taufiq last competed at the same World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) event back in 2011 where he stumbled in the top-64.

The national cueist started out with a 9-7 loss to then World No 4 Kuo Po Cheng in the first game. He bounced back with a 9-5 victory over Qatar's Meshal Turkey before dispatching Portugal's Manuel Gama 9-3 to advance to the second round. He then saw his campaign come to an end after falling 11-9 to the Philippines' Alan Cuartero.

The last WPA event Taufiq competed in was the World 9-Ball Open 2014 in Shanghai earlier this month. He fell 9-7 to Mohammad Hassana Al Hosaini of United Arab Emirates (UAE) in his opener before losing 9-3 to japan's Hayato Hijikatya to see him drop out of the tournament. Despite losing both his matches in the round of 64, Taufiq is now ranked 258 in the world.

Asked if he is thinking about improving on that, Taufiq replied: "It doesn't matter as I don't even check the rankings. I just want to make sure I play my game to win." National cue sports coach Lim Tat Hwe will not be accompanying the cueist to the event and Taufiq felt that it could be a factor. "It won't affect me but of course I would prefer it if he went as well so that we can discuss on tactical plays during timeouts," he said.

The trip was made possible by an anonymous sponsor and they hope that the national cueist will be able to do well. "Good luck and all the best to Taufiq. He can do it for Brunei and make us proud," they said. Hj Abd Lani Hj Mahmud, the Secretary of Brunei Darussalam Cue Sports Association (BCSA), will go as the team manager and he is thankful to the sponsor.

"I would like to thank the generosity of the sponsor for their willingness to help our players participate in this prestigious world championship," said Hj Abd Lani. "It is very important for our player to participate and we would also be glad to have our country's name listed in the world rankings," he concluded. The team will depart the Sultanate today while the draw is set for Friday.

The winner will take home US$30,000 with the runner-up receiving half the amount.

Courtesy from Brunei Times