The first week of the 2016 Access Bank-UNICEF Charity Shield Polo tournament came to an exciting end Sunday at the Fifth Chukker Polo and Country Club, Kaduna with Iyatu Farms beating Titan /STL 5 – 4 1/2 to win the UNICEF Cup.
BUA also edged Jericho 5 1/2 – 5 in the subsidiary final to clinch the Argentinian Ambassador’s Cup.
Keffi-based Iyatu, formed by Abba Duna Kaloma, Ibrahim Musa Dantala, Aliyu Tijjani and Rabiu Mohammed, topped the15-team table and were the favourites against the second-placed opponents who featured Aminu Dantata, Seyi Tinubu, Jamilu Mohammed and Halifa Ibrahim.
The fire-for-fire encounter saw Ibrahim scoring for Titan/STL to go 2 1/2 – 0 lead having started the match on a 1 1/2 goal handicap advantage.
Two-goaler Mohammed responded but two more goals by Ibrahim himself a three goaler keeps Titan/STL in the lead. Goals by Mohammed and Dantala sandwiched another goal by Ibrahim to make scores 4 1/2 – 4 at the end of the chukka.
Iyatu had their nose in front for the first time through Dantala’s brilliant individual goal to make score 5 – 4 1/2 as the seconds ticked away to end an exciting final match.
Dantala, who scored the winning goal, as well as the most goals, was named the MVP which came with an all-expense return ticket to Dubai.
The day’s first game saw which was a subsidiary final saw BUA defeated Jericho 5 1/2 – 5 to claim the Argentinian Ambassador’s Cup. The Argentinian Ambassador, Gustavo Dzugala commended Access Bank and Fifth Chukker for partnering for a humanitarian course.
Jericho, formed by Koyinsola Owoeye, Babao Lawal, Saidu Umar and Ahmadu Umar. And it was three-goaler Umar, who got the opening goal to close in on their opponents, who began the game with a 1 1/2 goal advantage due to handicap difference.
It was expected to be the show of Ahmadu and Tata Ali Kura, his BUA counterpart hitman, but it was Abdrahman Mohammed who stepped up for BUA scoring their opener to make scores 2 1/2 – 1 at the start of the second chukka. Jericho, however, responded with a goal by Ahmadu’s older sibling Saidu to keep the debuting team from Ibadan on the heels of their opponents going into the penultimate chukka of the low-goal event.
Sanni Bala, Sadiq Rabiu are the other two members of BUA and unsurprisingly, their influential scorer, Ali broke from the middle to register his name on the score sheet to take score to 3 1/2 – 2. Soon, Mohammed got another goal to ease the pressure following close misses by the Umar brothers.
Ahmadu, nicknamed Casca, amended for his miss in a sublime fashion scoring twice.
And the former horse-groomer was not done yet as he brought his skills to the fore scoring another goal just before the bell to give Jericho the lead for the first time in the game watched among a large crowd including the British High Commissioner alongside Ambassadors of Poland, Italy, Argentina. The Emirs of Zaria and Hadeja were also represented at the colourful event.
The final chukka, as anticipated, was explosive and a frantic defending by Jericho prevented Ali from making BUA retaking the lead.
But the final say belongs to Ali, who scrambled in a shot from about 12 yards off a crowded goalmouth at the dying moments to seal a hard-fought win.