Malaysia edge Japan to reach last eight despite Aifa’s injury scare

Aifa Azman, who played as the No. 1 for Malaysia, started off badly in the first two games before bouncing back to take the third 11-8 to keep the match alive.


That hurts: Aifa Azman (front) conceded a walkover after injuring herself. — World Squash Federation

December 14, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia secured their quarter-final berth at the World Women’s Team Championship after edging Japan 2-1, but not before an injury scare to Aifa Azman in Cairo on Monday.

Chan Yiwen, Malaysia’s third rubber, took to the court and gave Malaysia a fiery start as she defeated Risa Sugimoto 11-6, 11-1, 11-3 in just 20 minutes.

Aifa, who played as the No. 1 for Malaysia, started off badly as she dropped the first two games 8-11 and 2-11 against Satomi Watanabe before bouncing back to take the third game 11-8 to keep the match alive.

Struggling in the match, Aifa was 5-9 down in the fourth when she collided with Watanabe while trying to retrieve a shot and fell to the ground.

She was forced to concede the match to Watanabe after complaining of head and neck pains.

But world No. 25 Rachel Arnold maintained her composure to coolly overcome Akari Midorikawa 11-6, 11-2, 11-8 in 29 minutes to seal the tie 2-1 and confirm Malaysia’s quarter-final berth from Group D.

National head coach Ajaz Azmat was relieved that Malaysia secured their third win in the group to confirm a last-eight berth while Aifa did not suffer a serious injury.

“The team are doing well. This was an important tie and we’re happy to pull through,” said Ajaz.

“Aifa was playing well in her match before the fall, but she is doing fine and should play (in the remaining matches).

“Rachel really played well (to close out the tie) and the other girls have been playing well here.”

Malaysia, the joint fifth seeds, had earlier beaten Taiwan and Finland 3-0 respectively and their third win in a row was enough to take them into the quarter-finals.

Malaysia occupied sixth spot in the previous tournament in Dalian, China, four years ago.

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