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Not so Super Mario, Classy Captain America, the Sky's the Limit By Mark White

China began day three against Syria’s Mohammad Soufi and Zaid Al Shariti and quickly went 3 zero down, but China came back with 7 in a row to beat Syria, and there was no fairytale ending this time for the guy that made all the headlines when he reached the world nine-ball final last year.

Mohammad Soufi
Mohammad Soufi at World Cup of Pool Photo by Takaimages for Matchroom Multi Sport

Next up was Kuwait against Vietnam, Duong Quoc Hoang, and Nguyen Anh Tuan

Went 5-0 up in a flash, but Abdulla Alyousef and Bader Al Awadhi pulled it back to 5-3. Vietnam closed the match out 7-3 for surprisingly their 1st ever win in the WCOP and will be up against Great Britain next for a place in the quarterfinals.

The crowds were nowhere to be seen as Italy took on Japan in the next match, and to be totally and brutally honest; it was good that there weren’t too many fans there to witness what was a dreary, mistake-filled display by both teams. If you didn’t know the players, you’d think you’d stumbled upon a Thursday night BCA league stream. OK, that was a little harsh, and both teams were nervous and playing for the first time on the new Rasson table with new cloth.

In the 1st rack, Naoyuki Oi needed his cue extension and spent 15 seconds trying to get it out of his case and then had to use his 30-second extension; that’s like a footballer forgetting to tie his shoelaces.

It is day 3, and I am getting a little bit bored of the Pre-match interviews. Judging by the familiar thread in the player's answers, whoever is asking the questions is repeating the same set of questions, come on Matchroom, you are far better than that, even the Japanese joker Naoyuki Oi seemed subdued by his standards, but I digress, back to the match and Japan went into a 4-0 lead, to be fair to Daniele Corrieri and Francesco Candela they fought back well to 4-2, But both sides struggled with their breaks, technique was a bit off today, lots of movement on the shot, lifting the head, Naoyuki Oi was like a Jumping Jack in the box springing up on a lot of his shots, but in defense of both teams, Scotch doubles is a tough format to get going in, it’s hard to get any fluency going, but Japan did come away with a 7-4 win and are rewarded with a last 16 match against Team USA, but, they will need to play a lot better against SVB and Sky if they are going to advance.

Sky and Shane made a very laid-back entrance for their opening encounter with South Korea. In stark contrast Seo Seoa and my mate from New York, Kang Lee, came bouncing down the stairs, dancing and waving their hands in the air, ready to party.

I stayed with Kang for a couple of weeks in 2022, and he took me to the very famous Carom Café, which his uncle owns. I’m just doing a bit of name-dropping. The cagey first rack went to America's finest, but in rack 2, a great clearance after a lucky one ball, Seo and Kang leveled things up at one rack each. But from then on, it was all USA as Kang Lee missed a routine 6 ball, and they never really recovered after that, and the Americans ran out of comfortable winners seven racks to 1, and that match against Japan next in the last 16. One added thought; the USA looked very, very dangerous tonight. Could they be on their way to a 2nd World crown?

SVB & Sky Woodward World Cup of Pool
SVB & Sky Woodward World Cup of Pool Photo by Takaimages for Matchroom Multi Sport

Other teams to watch are Austria, China, Poland, Spain B, the Philippines, GB, Chinese Taipei, and Singapore. Oh my God, anyone can win it this year!

So round 1 is over, 16 teams remain, and the first match of round 2 was a very interesting battle between Albania and Poland. Eklent and Besar produced probably the best performance in round 1, especially Besar, who played fantastic, but it was a missed nine ball by him in rack one that handed the rack to the Poles, and then in rack 2, Eklent miscued off the rail on the eight ball, referee Marcel Ekhart asked to look at a replay and that clearly showed it was a double hit, ball in hand and 2-0 to Poland.

Eklent and Besar with Marcel Ekhart World Cup
Eklent and Besar with Marcel Ekhart World Cup Photo by Takaimages for Matchroom Multi Sport

Albania won rack three and a break and run in racks 4 and 5 to make it 3 in a row, but Poland won rack 6 to tie it up, and all three racks that the Poles won came from mistakes made by the Albanians.

Poland took the next rack with a break and run to regain the lead at 4-3, and a bad mistake trying to play a safety shot on the four left-handed by Besar Spahiu left Poland back in to finish off the rack and regain the lead at 5-3.

Things went from bad to worse for Albania as another missed opportunity on the 2-ball by Besar let Wiktor and Konrad back in to clear once again, and they were looking very confident as they arrived on the hill with a 3-rack cushion. The Albanians slumped in their chairs, fearing the worst, although if Poland did struggle with anything in this match, it was the break. A scratch on the four from Besar gave ball in hand to Poland, and they gratefully accepted and finished off the match with a comfortable win in the end. Phil Yates summed it up perfectly, saying, "In this type of tournament, you are only as strong as your weakest link, and Besar Spahiu was that weakest link." In the words of a TV quiz presenter, "Albania, you were the weakest link, Goodbye." Poland will play either Canada or Germany in the next round and is already guaranteed $9,500.

Wiktor Zielinski & Konrad Juszczyszyn World Cup
Wiktor Zielinski & Konrad Juszczyszyn World Cup Photo by Takaimages for Matchroom Multi Sport

So the last match for day 3 was 2-time champions Austria against the young guns from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sanjin and Ajdin were looking to reach their first-ever quarter-final in the WCOP and almost had the dream start after winning the lag. Sanjin with a great break, almost making a golden break leaving the nine hanging on the edge of a very deep shelf which the Rasson tables are known for, but he did make another ball, and they ran the rack to the six, and finished off comboing that 9-ball waiting, which, like me, was on the shelf.

Well, from almost a golden break in the first, it was a scratch in the 2nd, and Austria got their first chance to get their hand on the table and run out to level at 1-1, but then in rack three after what looked like an uncharacteristic miss from Mario He on the five ball, but after a look at the replay it looked like a skid to me, B&H took full advantage to regain the lead at 2-1.

A strange moment in the next rack when an under-hit 2-ball by Ajdin never reached the pocket but got a lucky hook on Mario, but Mario wasn't so super as he scratched off the 2, but then an awful mix-up by Bosnia and Herzegovina as they asked for an extension but they’d already used it and butchered up the shot badly, you have to put that down to lack of experience, Sanjin's partner should have been keeping an eye on the shot clock and telling him he didn't have an extension available. Tough lesson learned, hopefully.

Austria took rack 6 to take a 2-rack lead for the first time in the match and began to look like the 2-time champions they are. Could they possibly make it a hat-trick of wins? Rack 7 saw the first dry break of the night for Austria, and a lucky fluke on the one ball allowed the youngsters to run the table to get back to within one rack of Austria, but they soon restored their two-rack lead, and the Austrians moved within two racks of a win and a quarter-final match against Great Britain or Vietnam. A break and run for team Austria in the next put them on the hill, and a great break from Albin making three balls all in the same side pocket left an easy layout for team Austria to finish the match, 7-3 winners.

Mario He & Albin Ouschan World Cup
Mario He & Albin Ouschan World Cup Photo by Takaimages for Matchroom Multi Sport

So, day 3 is complete. More final 16 action tomorrow, starting with the Philippines versus Spain B. It should be a cracker. The action begins at 12-noon Central European time, that’s 6 PM in Asia.

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