In another power-packed performance, Ghantoot outclassed the Abu Dhabi team to storm into the final of the Emirates Polo Championship International 2020.
The 20th edition of the Emirates Polo Championship International is being held under the generous patronage of Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.
A total prize purse of $100,000 is up for grabs at the tournament which carries a handicap of 10-12 goals. The championship is being held in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and supported by Capex.com and Paris Reverie.
Continuing their unbeaten march at the sublime greens of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, the hosts dominated the match from the word go as Manuel Toccalino fired three goals in the opening chukker.
Skipper Nasser Al Shamsi succeeded in converting a field goal and Toccalino, who is in blazing form, added one more as Ghantoot stretched their lead to 5-0.
Cesar Crespo then scored in the last two chukkers to take the match beyond Abu Dhabi’s reach. Captain Faris Al Yabhouni opened the account for Abu Dhabi, who received 0.5 goal on handicap, in the third chukker but it was too late. Finally, Ghantoot emerged winners by a margin of 7-1.5 at the Sultan Bin Zayed field to earn their second consecutive victory and the ticket for the final.
Ghantoot skipper Shamsi said: “We started the campaign with two successive wins which motivates the team for the final. Our strategy for the final is to play aggressive in the clash against Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“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,” added Shamsi.
Meanwhile, bouncing back from their drubbing at the hands of Ghantoot, the Abu Dhabi team battled past Bin Drai to reach the final. They defeated Bin Drai 7-6 ½ in a hard-fought match.
Bin Drai bowed out of the tournament after failing to win a single match in three outings. Unbeaten Ghantoot and Abu Dhabi will now lock horns in the final of the prestigious Emirates Polo Championship International scheduled to be held on Tuesday.
The game between Bin Drai and Abu Dhabi proved to be a thrilling encounter, wherein both teams tried their best to outwit each other.
Bin Drai and Abu Dhabi faced some anxious moments in the first two chukkers. Later, Maix Malacalza’s brace and one each from Yabhouni and Bautista Garcia put Abu Dhabi ahead 6-2.
Tariq Al Haboor, Bautista Alberdi and Rashed Bin Drai converted one goal apiece in the last chukker to bring their team back into contention.
Both the teams matched fire-with-fire till the end as the scores were levelled and it was now anyone’s match heading into the dying moments of the encounter.
Garcia’s goal in the end made the difference and turned the tide in Abu Dhabi’s favour. Confident about his team chances in the final, 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.
“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,” he added. With no fans in attendance, hundreds of polo enthusiasts watched the action streamed live on the Ghantoot Polo and Racing Club’s social media platforms and live transmission through Abu Dhabi sports channels.
The club has always been a popular spot for players and fans, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, events are taking place without fans. To keep fans interested, the Ghantoot management is running 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 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.