Abu Dhabi and AM/UAE emerged as the winners in the openig day of the Standard Chartered Gold Cup (Dubai Open), the most important tournament of the Dubai Gold Cup Series, hosted by Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, following their wins against Ghantoot and Dubai Wolves, respectively.
The first match of the day was played in the morning, at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, a very attractive and hard fought contest between Abu Dhabi and Ghantoot. Faris Al Yabhouni’s foursome took an early 1-0 lead in the first chukka, through a field goal scored by Martín Donovan after receiving a great pass from Alfredo Cappella. Despite Ghantoot remained always close, Abu Dhabi managed to maintain a tight advantage in the two following chukkas; by half time, the scorboard read a slight 4-3 lead for Abu Dhabi.
Marcos Araya leveled at 4-all at the start of the fourth chukka, and up next Ghantoot earned their first lead, courtesyof Pablo Llorente scored. However, nothing was going to stop Abu Dhabi: three unanswered goals – a 60-yards penalty conversion by Alfredo Cappella and one apiece from Faris Al Yabhouni and César Crespo widened Abu Dhabi’s lead to 8-6 with only one chukka remaining.
Marcos Araya produced a great goal at the start of the fifth chukka, but Abu Dhabi replied quickly with two great goals by César Crespo. Far from giving up, Ghantoot reinforced their attack. However, the two goals by Araya and Marcos Panelo weren’t enough. Time was up, and Faris and co. claimed a very important 10-9 win.
In the afternoon, and back to Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, AM/UAE and Dubai Wolves met up to play a very tight match that had only nine goals. Juan Gris Zavaleta opend the scores in the first chukka, that gave Dubai Wolves. The second chukka belonged to AM/UAE (2-1), but the two next periods saw both teams coming and going from the goalposts. As a result, they were tied at 3-all at the start of the last chukka.
A fantastic goal by Habtoor Al Habtoor gave Dubai Wolves a 4-3 lead in the first minutes within the last chukka. But Jacinto Crotto replied quickly with two consecutive goals that sealed AM/UAE’s 5-4 win.
Action will resume 9n Wednesday February 19, with the following order of play:
2pm: Habtoor vs. Zedan
4pm: UAE vs. Bangash
ABU DHABI 10 vs. GHANTOOT 9
Abu Dhabi: Faris Al Yabhouni 0 (1 goal), César Crespo 4 (4, 1 penal), Alfredo Cappella 9 (3, 2 penalties).
Ghantoot: Ali Al Merri 1, Marcos Panelo 4 (2), Pablo Llorente 6 (3), Marcos Araya 7 (5, 2 penalties).
Score Abu Dhabi: 1-0, 2-1, 4-3, 8-6, 10-9
AM/UAE 5 vs. DUBAI WOLVES 4
AM/UAE: Sheikha Alya 0, Nacho Acuña 4 (1), Santiago Cernadas 7 (2), Jacinto Crotto (2).
DUBAI WOLVES: Habtoor Al Habtoor 1 (2), Justo Cuitiño 3, Juan Zubiaurre 6, Juan Gris Zavaleta 8 (2, 1 penalty).
Score AM/UAE: 0-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-4
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.
The finals of the Gold Cup (Dubai Open) are scheduled to be played on March 6.
ALL GOLD CUP MATCHES WILL BE STREAMED LIVE BY POLOLINE TV HERE.