The Ghantoot Polo team have outclassed the Abu Dhabi Polo team in another power-packed performance to storm into the finals of the Emirates Polo Championship International 2020.
The Emirates Polo Championship International’s 20th edition is being held under the generous patronage of Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.
The championship is being held in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and supported by Capex.com and Paris Reverie, with a total winning prize purse of $100,000 up for grabs which carries a handicap of 10-12 goals.
Ghantoot polo has dominated the match as Manuel Toccalino fired three goals in the opening chukker. Skipper Nasser Al Shamsi has succeeded in converting a field goal and Manuel Toccalino has added one more score as Ghantoot stretched their lead to 5-0.
To take the match beyond Abu Dhabi’s reach, Cesar Crespo of Ghantoot polo team then scored in the last two chukkers of the tournament. The captain of the Abu Dhabi polo team, Faris Al Yabhouni, who received 0.5 goals on handicap, opened the account for the team during the third chukker of the came, but it was too late. At the end of the tournament, Ghantoot emerged as winners by a margin of 7-1.5 at the Sultan Bin Zayed field earning their second consecutive victory and the ticket for the finals.
“We started the campaign with two successive wins, which motivated the team for the final. Our strategy for the final is to play aggressively in the clash against Abu Dhabi on Tuesday”. Ghantoot skipper, Shamsi, said.
“Honestly speaking, we were itching to play competitive games since COVID-19 brought a premature end to the last season. Going into the tournament, we were a little bit scared as other teams had already played one or two events in the new season.”
“Since the start, we played as a unit and through the collective team efforts we are in the final,” Shamsi added.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi team battled past Bin Drai to reach the final, bouncing back from their drubbing at the hands of Ghantoot. They defeated Bin Drai 7-6 ½ in a hard-fought match.
Bin Drai polo team bowed out of the polo tournament after failing to win a single match in three outings. The unbeaten polo teams Ghantoot and Abu Dhabi will now lock horns in the prestigious Emirates Polo Championship International finals that is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.
The polo match between Bin Drai and Abu Dhabi proved to be a thrilling encounter wherein both teams have tried their best to outwit each other. During the first two chukkers of the tournament, Bin Drai and Abu Dhabi polo team faced some anxious moments. Later, Maix Malacalza’s brace one each from Yabhouni and Bautista Garcia, put Abu Dhabi polo team ahead by the score of 6-2.
In the last chukker, Tariq Al Habtoor, Bautista Alberdi and Rashed Bin Drai converted one goal apiece to bring their team back into contention. Both the teams matched fire-with-fire till the end as the scores were leveled and it was now anyone’s match heading into the dying moments of the encounter.
Confident about his team’s chances in the finals, Yabhouni said: “Both the teams have equal chances of winning the title. It will be a fun playing against Ghantoot as we have nothing to lose”. Garcia’s goal in the end made the difference and turned the tide in Abu Dhabi’s favour.
Yabhouni added: “Each game is different as we lost the first match but made a comeback strongly in the next game. Our horses are in better shape. The key to success in the final will be a better coordination among the players”. With no fans to spectate the tournament, hundreds of polo enthusiasts have watched the action via live streaming on Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club’s social media platforms and in live transmission through Abu Dhabi sports channels.
Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club has always been a popular spot for players and fans of the game but due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mass gatherings, events are taking place without spectators. To keep the fans interested, the management of the club runs a lot of online competitions offering handsome prizes and surprises which enables them to stay involved.
After the Emirates Polo Championship International, the next event lined up on the club’s calendar is the Sultan Bin Zayed, which will take place in January 2021.
Established as the top polo event in the Middle East, the HH President of the UAE Polo Cup will take place from March 12 to March 26 and bring the curtain down on the club’s season. The two-week long tournament is famous for attracting top stars from across the globe.