Ghantoot and UAE are set to battle it out in the final of the Silver Cup, the opening competition of the Dubai Gold Cup Series, following their respective wins against Habtoor and AM/UAE in two extraordinary semifinals played at Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.
Habtoor got off to a strong start against Ghantoot, securing a 4-1 lead in the first chukka. Under the powerful command of Facundo Sola, who was well supported by Min Podestá and Felix Esain, it seemed that Habtoor had the game under control. But Ghantoot had other plans.
In the second chukka, Ali Al Merri’s foursome started gaining ground. Determined to make a comeback, they outscored Mohammed Al Habtoor’s team 4-1 (goals by Al Merri , Pablo Llorente  and César Crespo ) to tie the match 5-all by the end of the second.
In the third chukka, Marcos Araya scored to give Ghantoot its first lead (6-5). The match was very well fought, with both teams working hard to gain the upper hand. At half time, the match was tied once again (7-7).
Ghantoot re-claimed the advantage at the start of the fourth chukka, but Habtoor replied quickly, thanks to goals from Podestá and Sola. As a result, Habtoor managed to go 9-8 up with only a chukka to go.
In the last chukka, Ghantoot’s leading man kicked into high gear, as Marcos Araya scored in the first minute of play. Sola replied with a successful 30-yard penalty conversion, but Ghantoot bounced back as Araya scored two penalties to seal the victory for Ghantoot and secure a place in the Silver Cup final.
UAE (who received 1.5 goals on handicap) took on AM/UAE in the second semifinal. In the first chukka, Sheikha Maitha’s team widened their advantage thanks to Tommy Beresford’s scoring precision, in terms of both penalties and field goals. AM/UAE closed the gap in the second chukka, but UAE pushed harder and gained a solid advantage by halftime (7.5-3).
AM/UAE never gave up, and they were able to bring the difference down in the fourth chukka (5-8,5), but in truth UAE’s lead was never threatened. AM/UAE’s Jacinto Crotto scored at the start of the last, but Beresford replied by converting a 60-yard penalty to widen UAE’s lead. It was a well-fought chukka – Lulu Venot scored a killer neck shot goal and Santiago Cernadas scored a great field goal, and with less than two minutes left in regulation time, the victory was up for grabs, as UAE only maintained a narrow lead (9,5-8). But that’s when Benjamín Panelo came to the rescue, scoring for UAE with only seconds left on the clock to secure the victory (10,5-8) and a place in the final.
Ghantoot and UAE will go head to head in the final of the Silver Cup on Friday, February 7, at 4pm.
ALL SILVER CUP MATCHES WILL BE STREAMED LIVE ON PoloLine TV.
GHANTOOT 11 vs. HABTOOR 10
GHANTOOT: Ali Al Merri 0 (1 goal), Marcos Araya 7 (5, 4 penalties), César Crespo 5 (2), Pablo Llorente 6 (3).
HABTOOR: Mohammed Al Habtoor 0, Facundo Sola 9 (7, 4 penalties), Min Podestá 7 (1), Felix Esain 2 (2).
Score Ghantoot: 1-4, 5-5, 7-7, 8-9, 11-10.
Rewatch the match: Ghantoot vs. Habtoor
UAE 10.5 vs. AM/UAE 8
UAE: Sheikha Maitha 0 (1), Tommy Beresford 6 (6, 5 penalties), Tomás Panelo 6, (1), Benjamín Panelo 4 (1).
AM/UAE: Jacinto Crotto 7 (3), Santiago Cernadas 7 (2), Lucy Venot 0 (1), Nacho Acuña 4 (2).
Score UAE (1.5): 3.5-1, 4.5-3, 7.5-3, 8.5-5, 10.5-8.
Rewatch the match: UAE vs. AM/UAE
2020 DUBAI GOLD CUP SERIES CALENDAR:
SILVER CUP (18 goal): Jan 24 – Feb 07.
POLO MASTERS CUP (10 goal): Feb 10-12.
GOLD CUP: (18 goal): Feb 15 – March 06.
DUBAI CHALLENGE CUP (10 goal): March 14-21.
DUBAI CUP (8 Goles): April 01-10.