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Vafaei Still in Crucible Contention

Iranian snooker Hossein Vafaei produced a crucial four frame burst to come from behind and beat Jamie Cope 10-8 on Saturday in Betfred World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, April 11-18.

Vafaei came within two frames of becoming the first player from Iran to grace the Crucible baize last year. He was defeated 10-8 by Tom Ford in the final round of qualifying, Worldsnooker.com wrote.

The 23 year old has already become Iran’s first professional player and made an impact on his debut season in 2016/17, reaching the semifinals of the China Open and beating Judd Trump on the way. He has now been joined by compatriot Soheil Vahedi, who is the World Snooker Tour’s second Iranian player.

Two-time ranking event finalist Cope, who is now playing as an amateur, never trailed until he fell 9-8 behind. However, he will return to the English Institute of Sport later this week to compete for a tourcard at the EBSA Playoffs. He can take solace going into that from a strong performance, which saw him top score with 141.

Vafaei claimed victory by surging to the line from 8-6 down, compiling consecutive breaks of 66, 118, 58 and 41.

He will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham next, who thrashed Chen Zifan 10-1.

Born in southern city of Abadan, Vafaei, is the first Iranian professional snooker player in the history of the game.

 His attempts to travel to the UK to qualify for the major tournaments on the snooker calendar were denied due to visa problems, but he gained a UK visa in February 2015.

In 2011, he won the World Amateur Snooker Championship at the age of 17, which made him the youngest ever winner of the tournament.

In 2012, he won ACBS Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship. Later, he won the title at the 2014 IBSF World Under-21 Snooker Championship.