Republic of Ireland got their World Cup campaign back on track today with an elongated 4-1 victory over Egypt in Group A.
Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Pakistan on the opening day but are back in a strong position following a comprehensive win that took a massive three and a half hours to complete.
Each frame was a scrappy affair as this unique format continues to encourage a negative approach to the game.
The stop-start system ensures it is difficult to gain any sort of rhythm – particularly when long safety battles send the balls into safe positions on the table.
Doherty joked after the match that the fans should be given their money back for being put through the marathon encounter.
While the World Cup is an excellent addition to the circuit and it is certainly hoped that it will continue after this year’s staging, there may have to be some tweaks to the format to allow for further flare and improved play.
That said, the complaints are at no way aimed at the smaller snooker nations that are participating this year, most of whom would not be used to the exposure of such a high-profile event.
Unsurprisingly, a team that has not performed poorly so far in Thailand is the top seeded nation Wales, who maintained recorded their second success of the tournament after beating Germany 3-2.
Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens look particularly dangerous – especially in the crucial alternate shot doubles format where the pair have knocked in sizeable breaks in both of their matches so far.
Indeed, the Welsh duo appeared completely in unison with one another prior to their doubles clash against the Germans of Patrick Einsle and Lasse Munstermann when they were shown lovingly holding each other’s hands.
Although it was just a bit of fun, team spirit is imperative in an event like this and the two friends have got that in abundance which could prove vital come the business end of proceedings.
Similarly, Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen and Gerard Greene have looked sharp in Bangkok and recorded their second successive 4-1 triumph to put them firmly on top of Group C – their victory coming against Brazil.
England’s 3-2 win against Belgium – the Belgian’s third single frame defeat in a row – all but guarantees Mark Selby and Ali Carter’s progression along with the Northern Irish barring a complete catastrophe.
In Group B, Australia remain in pole position despite not being in action today but were joined on seven points by Malta and Thailand 1 after Tony Drago and Alex Borg edged the host nation 3-2.
With China still to play, it looks ominous for an early exit for James Wattana’s team but Malta could threaten the Far Easterners if they can record a big win over the United Arab Emirates side.
U.A.E., incidentally, pushed Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo all the way before succumbing to a 3-2 loss in a clash that was a lengthy affair as well.
Finally, seeds Scotland and Hong Kong are in strong positions in Group D following respective 4-1 triumphs over Afghanistan and Thailand 2.
However, with Marco Fu’s Hong Kong still to meet the formidable Scottish pairing of John Higgins and Stephen Maguire in their last match, there is still hope for Poland to spring an upset if they continue their good form.
The group tables and format can be viewed by clicking here.