Drama-filled Semi Finals in Dubai

images-news-DubaiDesert Palm & UAE Polo reach Final of Cartier Challenge

In an afternoon of falls and fouls, Rashid Albwardy’s Desert Palm will face HH Sheikha Maitha’s UAE polo team in the Final of The Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge at Desert Palm Resort. Mere moments into the first match of the afternoon between Cartier Red and UAE, Sheikha Maitha was injured and regular Dubai amateur player, Musab Al Wandawi took to the field as her substitute. Play was resumed only for the UAE’s Santi Sterling to retire hurt in the second chukka. His replacement, Facundo Llorente led the new line-up, unsettling the as yet unbeaten Cartier Red, and keeping the scores level right up to the fourth chukka when the scoreboard read 5-all. After a brief interlude, the teams took to the pitch looking for a sudden death, deciding goal. In the end, it was to come off the stick of UAE’s Lucas Monteverde, giving the Sheikha her place in Saturday’s Final.

The second match of the day between Desert Palm and Abu Dhabi, also had its share of drama. At half-time, the home side looked like it would win the game by a huge margin with the scores marked at 7-2 at half-time. Abu Dhabi were not fielding their patron, Faris Al Yabhouni, sidelined with an injury and perhaps this change in their line-up effected the team’s dynamics. They came back stronger in the second half, with Alfredo Capella and Ernesto Trotz putting in strong performances to counteract the goal domination of Desert Palm’s Tom Brodie and Diego Cavanagh. Sadly they ran out of time and it was Rashid Albwardy who scored the final goal of the game to win the match 12-8.

Desert Palm (Alan Meeker (0), Rashid Albwardy (2), Tom Brodie (2) and Diego Cavanagh (8)) will play UAE (Sandra Schneider (-1), HH Sheikha Maitha Al Maktoum/ Musab Al Wandawi (0), Santiago Sterling/ Facundo Llorente (4) and Lucas Monteverde (9)) in the Final of The Cartier Challenge, the 10th anniversary of the event on Saturday 21 February in front of an exclusive crowd of Cartier guests. Abu Dhabi (Nasser Al Dhaher (0), Nasser Al Shamsi (1), Ernesto Oscar Trotz (4) and Alfredo Capella (7))and Cartier Red (Clive Reid (0), Martin Valent (2), Tariq Albwardy (1) and Matias Zavaleta (7)) will meet for the Subsidiary Final for The Desert Palm Trophy earlier in the day.

Photograph: Action from the Semi Finals of The Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge. By Tony Ramirez/www.imagesofpolo.com