Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Polo Club are within one match of winning the HH The President of UAE Polo Cup, their second major title of the season, where they face Desert Palm Polo Team who are enjoying their best run.
Abu Dhabi, winners of the Emirates Open at the end of last year, started the HH The President Cup with a 8-9 defeat at the hands of Desert Palm in the opening qualifying match of the 18-handicap tournament. But they have improved with every match beating UAE Polo Team and Ghantoot ADS Securities.
At the end of the three rounds of qualification matches at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, Abu Dhabi, Desert Palm and Ghantoot ADS Securities all finished on four points from two wins each forcing the penalty shoot-ruling, whereby goal difference is discounted for the three teams.
UAE Polo Team, who lost all three matches. were eliminated at this stage.
On Thursday, Abu Dhabi and Desert Palm converted all four penalties from the 40-yard and 60-yard mark while Ghantoot’s Guillermo Terrera missed his shot from 60 yards to put his team out of contention for a place in Friday’s final.
Earlier on Tuesday, Desert Palm edged out UAE 7-6 while Abu Dhabi continued their impressive run with a dominant 9-7 victory over ADS Securities, representing the host club.
Faris Al Yabhouni, the mercurial patron of Abu Dhabi Polo Team, emphatic winners of the Emirates Open Polo Champion in December, said he was delighted to have led his team to another major polo final.
“We came in to this tournament with the aim of winning it,” he said. “We played positive polo and although we lost the first match, it did not rattle us as we were confident that we could come back strongly and secure a place in the final.
“I credit this achievement to my team. We bond well and understand and believe in each other. Polo is a team game and you need to have the right team spirit in order to succeed and I believe that we have been successful on that front,” Al Yabhouni added.
“This is not an easy competition as the standard of the players in all teams is very high. But we remained very focused of our objective.
“We respect all our opponents but did not allow them to dominate us. The goal was to gain the upper hand and to keep it.
“I think we played according to our plans and the positive strategy has put us within one match of achieving our ultimate goal — to win the HH The President of the UAE Polo Cup,” said Al Yabhouni.
“I would like to congratulate my team, Alfredo Capela Barabucci 6; Santiago Cernadas 1 and Santiago Gomez Romero who have been brilliant all through the tournament. In particular I would like to take my hat off to Alfredo, who has been playing with me since he was 14. I always believed that he would become a great player, and now at the age of 24 he is a +9 goal handipper.”
“Good luck to Desert Palm for qualifying and we look forward to playing them in the final on Friday,” he added.
Held in the name of The President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and under the patronage of Shaikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the two-week long event has attracted some of the leading polo players in the UAE and from around the world.
(Final qualification matches on Tuesday, January 17)
Desert Palm Polo Team beat UAE Polo Team 7-6
• UAE: Igancio Acuna 3; Polito Pieres 2; Pablo Avalos 1
• Desert Palm: Bartolome Castagnola 3; Camilo Castagnola 2; Rashid Al Bawardi 2
Abu Dhabi Polo Team beat Ghantoot ADS Securities Polo Team 9-7
• Abu Dhabi: Alfredo Capela Barabucci 6; Santiago Cernadas 1; Santiago Gomez Romero 1; Faris Al Yabhouni 1.
• Ghantoot: Facundo Sola 6; Guillermo Terrera 1.
P W L Pts GF GA GD
ADS Ghantoot 3 2 1 4 25 25 0
Abu Dhabi 2 2 1 4 28 23 +5
Desert Palm 3 2 1 4 25 24 +1
UAE 3 0 3 0 20 26 —
• What: HH The President of the UAE Cup
• When: Friday, January 19
• Teams: Abu Dhabi Polo Club vs Desert Palm Polo Club
• Venue: Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club
• Entrance: Free