Both Abu Dhabi and AM/UAE claimed victories in the opening day of the Standard Chartered Gold Cup (Dubai Open), the most important tournament of the Dubai Gold Cup Series, following their respective wins against Ghantoot and Dubai Wolves. The tournament is hosted by Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.
The first match of the day, an attractive and hard fought contest between Abu Dhabi and Ghantoot, was played at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club. Faris Al Yabhouni’s team took an early 1-0 lead in the first chukka, thanks to a field goal scored by Martín Donovan after he received a great pass from Alfredo Cappella. While Ghantoot were always on their opponent’s heels, Abu Dhabi managed to maintain an advantage over the following two chukkas. By half time, Abu Dhabi were 4-3 up.
Marcos Araya tied the match 4-all at the start of the fourth, before Ghantoot fought back to claim their first lead in the match, courtesy of goal scored by Pablo Llorente. However, nothing was going to stop Abu Dhabi: three unanswered goals – a 60-yard penalty conversion by Alfredo Cappella, and goals from Faris Al Yabhouni and César Crespo – widened Abu Dhabi’s by to (8-6) with only one chukka remaining.
Marcos Araya converted a great goal at the start of the fifth, but Abu Dhabi replied quickly with two great goals by Crespo. Far from giving up, Ghantoot remounted their attack, bu the two goals scored by Araya and Marcos Panelo were not enough. The final bell rang and Faris’s boys claimed a very important debut win (10-9).
Next up, AM/UAE took on Dubai Wolves at Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. The match was intense, with only nine goals scored throughout. Juan Gris Zavaleta opened the scoreboard in the first chukka, giving Dubai Wolves a 1-0 advantage. The second chukka belonged to AM/UAE (2-1), but the next two saw both teams fight hard. As a result, the match was tied 3-all by the start of the last.
A fantastic goal by Habtoor Al Habtoor gave Dubai Wolves a 4-3 lead in the first minutes of the final chukka, but Jacinto Crotto replied with two consecutive goals, sealing the win for AM/UAE (5-4).
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.
The Gold Cup resumes on Wednesday, February 19:
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.