Defending champion Pankaj Advani entered the quarterfinals of the Asian Snooker Championship after squeezing out a 4-2 win over Hong Kong’s Tam Yun Fung in the round of 16 on Wednesday.In the quarterfinals, which to be played on best of 9 frames, the Indian will meet Iraq’s Alijalil Ali who blanked his compatriot Laxman Rawat 4-0.In the last-16 stage which were played on best of 7 frames, Pankaj beat Tam 33-70, 90-01, 74-60, 119(80)-08, 13-65, 55-24 while his quarterfinal rival Iraqi beat Laxman 71-12, 66-44, 75-29, 72-61.In the group matches, both the Indians pocketed a century each. Laxman, a 2019 World 6Reds champion, in Group ‘F’ scored one against Omar Alajlani of Saudi Arabia while Pankaj, a 23-time World champion, had one against Ali Hussein of Iraq in last Group ‘A’ match. Pankaj is the only player who has won the title in all forms of billiards, snooker, 6Reds, and 10Reds competitions. Laxman will return home while Pankaj will stay back to compete in the Qatar 6Red World Cup starting Friday.Amir Sarkhosh and Siyavosh Mozayani of Iran, Haris Tahir of Pakistan, Khalid Kamali of the UAE, Saleh Mohammed of Afghanistan and Cheung Ka Wai of Hong Kong were the other winners emerging from the round of 16.The event is the first event for billiards and snooker since March 2020. At least 42 players from 19 countries participated in the Asian championship including Pakistan, India, Iraq, UAE, Qatar, Nepal, Iran, Hong Kong, Jordan, Palestine, Oman, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria and Mongolia players.The final will be played on Thursday.2012 Asian champ and national reigning snooker champion Aditya Mehta, who was to compete here, failed to make it due to Covid protocol as he is vaccinated with only a single dose while the protocol is clear that all travellers to Qatar have to be fully inoculated to enter the Gulf country.Asian snooker is the first major international championship for Indian cueists after a 19-moth break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Another Indian, Ishpreet Singh will compete in the Qatar 6Red World Cup from September 17 to 21 along with national 6Reds champ Pankaj.