'Aisam, Aqeel in top form to claim gold at SAG'
Pakistan non-playing captain Rashid Malik held out hope of winning gold medal in the tennis event of the South Asian Games scheduled to be held from Feb 5 to 16 in the two Indian cities of Guwahati and Shillong.
"Though it is yet to be clear which players India is going to field in the event, our players in Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan are in top form to claim gold medals in the Games," said Rashid who is a former seasoned campaigner of the Davis Cup ties for Pakistan both as a player and non-playing captain. He said Aisam and Aqeel would play the doubles and they could win a gold medal on the hard courts, adding that in the mixed doubles Aisam pairing with Ushna Sohail and the duo of Aqeel and Sarah Mahboob would also secure a gold medal.
He said India playing on their own surface seemed to be tough rivals for all participating teams with Sri Lankans being the second big opponents.
He said Aisam had also joined the camp a couple of days before it concluded on Tuesday as he was in Melbourne taking part in the Australian Open. Aisam was quite fit and in great form after playing the Australian Open, Rashid added. Pakistan men's team comprise Yasir Khan and Mohammad Abid besides Aisam and Aqeel with the women's team containing Sarah Mahboob, Sarah Mansoor, Ushna Sohail and Aiman Qureshi. Rashid said both men and women players had been training together at the Bagh-iJinnah where Mohammad Khalid coached the women's team.
Talking about the women's team participating in the upcoming Games, he said he was confident that women were well-prepared for the regional event, adding that the SAF Games were also an opportunity for the Pakistan team to get better preparations before meeting China in the Davis Cup tie (final round) to be held at the neutral venues of the Sri Lanka in March this year.