By Alejandra Ocampo
Abu Dhabi and Ghantoot took wins on Monday’s games of the Standard Chartered Gold Cup, the premier tournament within the prestigious Gold Cup Series, the most remarkable polo event in Asia and the Middle East, hosted by Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.
Abu Dhabi beat Dubai Wolves 12-9, while Ghantoot took a 9-6 victory over AM/UAE. With these results, Abu Dhabi, Ghantoot and AM/UAE will go to a penalty shotoout to determine their respctive spots in the next stage. The winner of the penalty series, that will be held on Tuesday February 25, will qualify to semifinals, and the two remaining teams will play the quarter finals.
In the opening contest, Dubai Wolves claimed the first chukka 1-0, but Abu Dhabi recovered quickly. They seized the reins of the match in the second chukka, led by Alfredo Cappella, widening their advantage considerably. The half time saw them leading 8-4. Faris Al Yabhouni’s team dominance continued in the fourth chukka, when they claimed a decisive 11-6 lead.
However, Dubai Wolves managed to outscore Abu Dhabi 2-1 in the last chukka, with goals by Juan Gris Zavaleta. But in the middle, Martín Donovan had already sealed what would be the 12-8 win for Abu Dhabi.
Up next, Ghantoot had a strong start against AM/UAE. Under the command of Marcos Araya, the team’s best player and already one of the biggest stars of the competition, they were accurate to find the goalposts, and by half time, the scoreboard read a heavy 7-1 lead for Ali Al Merri’s lineup.
Ghantoot seemed to slow down a bit in the next two chukkas, so AM/UAE managed to close the gap; however, the damage was already done. The wide difference Ghantoot had taken in the first half was crucial to claim the 9-6 victory.
The tournament will resume on Tuesday 25 February, with this schedule:
1,45, Penalty shootoout Abu Dhabi, Ghantoot, AM UAE
2,30: Zedan vs. Bangash
4,15pm: Habtoor vs. UAE
ABU DHABI 12 vs. DUBAI WOLVES 9
ABU DHABI: Faris Al Yabhouni 0, César Crespo 4 (1), Alfredo Cappella 9 (7), Martín Donovan 5 (4, 3 penalties).
DUBAI WOLVES: Habtoor Al Habtoor 1 (1), Justo Cuitiño 3, Juan Zubiaurre 6 (2), Juan Gris Zavaleta 8 (6, 1 penalty).
Score Abu Dhabi: 0-1, 4-2, 8-4, 11-6, 12-9.
GHANTOOT 9 vs. AM/UAE 6
GHANTOOT: Ali Al Merri 1, Marcos Panelo 4, Pablo Llorente 6 (2), Marcos Araya 7 (6, 3 penalties).
AM/UAE: Sheikha Alya 0, Nacho Acuña 4, Santiago Cernadas 6 (2), 1 penalty), Jacinto Crotto 7 (4, 2 penalties).
Score Ghantoot: 2-0, 3-1, 7-1, 7-3, 9-6
The Gold Cup, the most important tournament of Asia and the Middle East, was established in 2009. Over the last decade, the competition has become one of the most prestigious of the international polo calendar. The Gold Cup also awards points for the WPT Championship Cup category of the World Polo Tour.