Players of Ghantoot and Habtoor in action during their HH President of the UAE Polo Cup match at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
With a third straight victory, hosts Ghantoot have set up a mouthwatering clash with Habtoor after storming into the final of the 21st edition of the HH President of UAE Polo Cup.
The two most dominant teams of the UAE will go head-to-head in the highly anticipated final at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club to be held on Sunday.
The final scheduled for Friday was cancelled after the death of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the Minister of Finance, who passed away on Wednesday morning.
Zayed Khalifa Zayed Al Aboudi Al Zaabi, Executive Director of the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, expressed heartfelt condolences to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and to Al Maktoum’s family, on the death of Sheikh Hamdan.
The showpiece event of the polo season is being held in the name of The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and under the patronage of Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.
Ghantoot will be gunning for the second biggest title of the season after clinching the prestigious IFZA Gold Cup earlier.
The hosts qualified for the final following a narrow 10-9 win over Habtoor in the last qualifying round of matches held on Tuesday.
Raja Abul Jubain’s field goal put Habtoor ahead in the fifth minute of the game. Ghantoot responded immediately with Marcos Araya converting a 30- yard penalty.
Facundo Sola put through the post to give Habtoor a slim lead by the end of the first chukker. Ghantoot star and in-form Argentine Pablo Llorente scored three in the second chukker to make it 4-3.
Quick to catch up was Sola, scoring 2 goals for the team that levelled the game. Both the teams tried hard to gain the upper hand as the fourth chukker saw a flurry of goals.
The determining chukker had Marcos Araya score three goals that sealed the win for Ghantoot. Despite defeat, Habtoor advanced to the final after finishing second in the points table as they posted two victories in the previous rounds.
Delighted with the win and ticket for the final, Llorente said: “Since we are the hosts of the tournament, we want to lift the President of UAE Polo Cup.
“Winning three games in a row gives confidence to the team. We have really worked hard to reach here and are looking forward to playing in the finals where we have got to put our best foot forward and give our best out there,” he added.
Abu Dhabi Polo edged past Yas Holding Polo 11-10 in a thriller. They both will now play for the subsidiary final of the event. Gonzalo Deltour scored six goals and played a key role in their victory.
The governing partner for the HH President of the UAE Cup is Abu Dhabi Sports Council and it’s being held in association with the Emirates Polo Association. Event sponsors include Yas International Holding, Yas International Properties LLC, Al Ittihad, Capex.com, Porsche Centre Abu Dhabi Ali and Sons Co. LLC, Yas TV and Tack and Truck. Fans can catch the action live Yas TV and on the official website of the tournament – www.presidentpolocup.ae.
HH President of UAE Polo Cup fixture
On Sunday: Subsidiary Final:
Abu Dhabi vs YAS International Holding ( 2:30pm)
HH President of UAE Polo Cup final: Ghantoot vs Habtoor (4:45pm)