Nigerian polo players in action
Host country, Malaysia, celebrated a hard-fought win over New Zealand Wednesday night with a dazzling fireworks celebration that lit the Royal Pahang Polo Club sky up, for upwards of five minutes.
The 9-8 victory was made more poignant for the Malays because of the way and manner it was wrought – via emotions running high, scores swinging back and forth like a yoyo; not to mention a pony that was so excited and going with the game – even when it was feeling no longer to it – that she allowed herself to be rode to death, as they say, when she slumped on the field of play and died.
That it was going to be one of the most exciting games ever was to be seen from the moment the ball was thrown in by the referee, for hostilities to commence. If the throw of the ref was the signal for battle to begin, the two sides did more than compliment that with the adrenalin-fuelled attacking play that was set up right afterwards.
Hardly had the exchanges begun than the hosts went on the rampage, forcing the players of the Kiwi team to need a foul to stop them from an early minute goal. But the infringement did not help the matter for them as it resulted into a penalty-4 punishment, which was a 60-yard strike. With their specialist striker Zaini in fine fettle and on top of his game, his high shot was unstoppable and it sailed well over everything for the opening goal. But New Zealand struck back almost immediately to restore the much needed Kiwi parity.
From that moment on, it was going to be a seesawing affair in fluctuating fortunes; however, with never any of the two sides going more than one goal ahead in advantage. And in this, it was always the hosts, leading the light with New Zealand invariably coming back to level up scores.
It went on like this for three chukkas, with each side scoring two goals apiece in each chukka; each chukka seeing to the scoring of four goals by both sides. This meant the first chukka ended 2-2 and the second 4-4. The story looked like it was going to persist on this path in the third chukka when as usual, Malaysia went forward to 5-4. But the colouration would experience a different hue in brightness for the home fans when their team proceeded to lead; for the first time since the match begun, by two goals, taking the score line now to 6-4.
At that point, it was looking like there would be no stopping the home side. But just as every fan of Malaysia was beginning to think the Malay birds were about coming home to roost, the men from New Zealand began their renaissance.
Going for broke, they scored two goals in quick interval to restore parity and make the match-tradition of four goals per chukka and two apiece by each side to stay unbroken.