By Victor Okoye
Malcomines of Jos have emerged winners of the 2022 National Carnival Polo Tournament’s top prize; the President’s Cup in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the week-long international carnival fiesta which galloped off at the Nigeria Polo Resort/Guards Polo Club on Dec. 10 came to a climax on Sunday.
No fewer than six cups were competed for during the tournament to showcase and celebrate the tourism potentials and cultural heritage of the country.
Over 28 teams across the country as well as participants from home and abroad taking part.
The teams competed for the President’s Cup, Legislative Shield, FCT Minister’s Cup and Guards Challenge Trophy.
Others include the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Cup and the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).
Malcomines of Jos, 60 Yards/Afmaaj Consulting, Abuja Rubicon, Max Air, Nigerian Army Polo team and Police IGP Strikers braced up for another epic battle for the much awaited carnival polo tournament.
Former champions, Malcomines were the team to beat in the President’s Cup, as they squared up against 60 Yards/ Afmaaj Consulting team in a duel to decide the winner of the prestigious cup and the overall champion of the 2022 carnival polo.
The Murtala Laushi (+1) powered Malcomines, paraded a formidable side which included its hired assassins, Argentine players Alejo Alanburo (+5) and Fernando Munez (+3) as well as Nigeria’s top player Hamisu Buba (+4).
The Malcomines outclassed the quartet of 60 Yard’s Bashir Bashir Dantata (+3), Muktar Adhama (+2), Kwame Isa (+3) and Abdulrahman Muhammed (+3).
At the commencement of the final match, 60 Yards were awarded two and a half goal to level the teams’ handicap.
But the skillful team play by Buba and Alanburo was a master stroke, as both combined well to score a total of nine goals for a 10 to 6 and a half goal victory at the end of a five chukka thriller.
Captain of Malcomines Club, Laushi, expressed delight after his team’s victory.
He said that his team were a better side with well groomed, quality mounts as well as good players and thus deserved to win.
“Malcomines are a great side with a lot of pedigree and history. So, it wasn’t a fluke that we won.
“Hopefully we can perform even better next time to ensure we defend our title,” he said.
He, also expressed satisfaction with the organisation of the tournament, adding that polo had a brighter future for the up and coming players.
“The organisation of the tournament was top notch and it speaks to the commitment and dedication of the club management.
“The tournament is really growing and getting better every year. I commend the Organising committee, the Guards Polo Club management and the Nigeria Army Polo Association (NAPA) for hosting this wonderful tournament.
“It indeed was a really great tournament and a very commendable one.
“There are alot of young players coming up. So, I think polo has a very good future here and the game is growing,” he said.
Serial champions, Abuja Rubicon team had their hands full as they battled two arch rivals, Katsina Max Air and Senator Haliru Jika’s Dokaji team in the race for the event’s second most wanted prize, the Legislative Shield.
The quartet of Rubicon’s Abdulrahman Sirika (+1), Jamilu Isiyaku (+1) as well as the Badamasi brothers Abdulmalik (+4) and Idris (+3) proved too strong for Max Air, beating the Katsina-based team 4 and a half goals to 3 in the final battle for supremacy in the Legislative Shield.
Captain of Rubicon Polo team, Sirika said they were elated to have won the title, having won it on several occasions.
He said that the Rubicon team would remain unchallenged in any polo tournament.
“I think think in the first game we played well but missed alot of goal scoring chances. However, in the finals, we played really well in the first, second and third chukkas.
“We had to dig deep in the first chukka because our opponents were leading us by half a goal and the pressure was intense.
“Some of the decisions didn’t go our way but we still played and kept fighting till the end. This is something we do everywhere we go. Anytime we win a trophy we always retain it. We never fail.
“We’ve done it all over the country, ask anybody. Everybody know us. We are known for this.
“Sometimes when we win trophies several times, for instance in Trappco, the owner of the Farm told the organisers to change the trophy name to ours because we won it so many times.
“So, it is not new to us. We’ve been doing this for years and will keep doing it for many years to come,” he said.
On his assessment on the organisation of the tournament he said it was a fantastic display of commitment and hardwork by the club members and every single person involved in the organising committee.
“All I can say to them is to say thank you for doing a wonderful job,” he said.
Meanwhile, Old foes, the Nigerian Army polo team and the Police polo team whose history of rivalry dates back over a century, headlined a crowded field of ten teams who chased after the glittering FCT Minister’s Cup.
At the end, it was the fortified Police and the Nigerian Army teams who emerged winners of their streams which set the stage for a blistering fire-for-fire final encounter as both sides rekindled age long rivalry in the final of the FCT Ministers’ Cup.
Top firing Brig. Gen. Umar Laka led the Army warriors, while the never- say -die CSP Usman Michika-led Police Strikers clashed in the battle royale that has remained the talk of the town after the end of the tournament.
The Nigeria Army polo team edged past the IGP Strikers 5 goals to 4 to emerge winners of the FCT Minister’s Cup at the end of a tightly-contested and pulsating four chukka encounter.
Meanwhile, six ambitious teams dominated as rookies and beginners were in the trenches for the low-goal Guards Challenge Cup race that wore on till the last games to separate the winners.
However, it was Dogonyaro Farms who beat Alphamsa 4 goals to 2 in the final to claim the low-goal prize.
Other cups competed for include: the COAS Cup and CNS Cup. The cups were in honour of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo.
Operation Hadinkai narrowly beat Operation Sanity 7 -6 in a fierce encounter to emerge eventual winners of COAS Cup, while NNS Prosperity defeated NNS Unity 5 goals to 4 to win the CNS Cup.
Abdullahi Ibrahim, Chairman, Guard Polo Club, Abuja, told newsmen after the final of tournament that the event was a product of a long time planning, arrangment, preparation and commitment.
“The entire team was indeed committed and dedicated to hosting a world class event and I believe this is what we have achieved in the course of the week-long carnival polo fiesta.
“The whole idea was to bring people from different backgrounds, to community, the police,army, navy and other agencies together to play and foster a relationship in the spirit of the game.
On the new look the club is wearing as well new club house and the general ambiance and lush green pitch, the chairman noted that it was a result of focused commitment on the part of the committee members.
“What has happened is that, there have been alot of focused commitment by the members of this great club to upgrade its facilities.
“If you look around, you can see that the quality of the stables have gone up very significantly and can be compared to the best anywhere in the world.
“If you look at the field also which is the most important part of what we have here, because without the field, you have no polo.
“We have dedicated a lot of resources in terms of upgrading the standard of the field and I must say that it has indeed responded well.
“We now have a world standard field which has improved and contributed to the quality of play which was evident during the carnival polo tournament,” he said.
He said plans were ongoing to construct another facility within the club to create an alternative and relieve the pressure from the present one. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Joseph Edeh