EL-Amin Polo Patron, Mohammed Babangida (left) receiving the IBB Cup from the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello while his Adamawa State counterpart, Governor Muhammad Jibrilla Bindo and President of the Nigerian polo
2016 MINNA POLO
Nigeria’s most successful high-goal polo team, EL-Amin, has sent out a Georgian Cup warning to its rivals after a ruthless display that saw it retain the high stake IBB Cup title at the expense of Kaduna Kakuri at the just concluded 2016 Minna Polo Tournament
EL-Amin defeated Kakuri in a thrilling final at the foremost IBB Sports Complex venue of the prestigious annual polo festival, to claim their 16th IBB Cup crown and head into other tournaments in the national tour full of confidence.
Kakuri dribbler, Ibrahim Babangida had pushed his ambitious side on a revenge mission with a goal in the early minutes of the cracking final that had two state governors, Senator Muhammad Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa and host Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger, first class emirs from the north and thousands of polo buffs all watching from the edge of their seats.
But just as the hard-playing Kakuri appeared to have taken control of the contest, the reigning champions who were not prepared to be taken prisoners and risk their treasured title came storming back with three quick fire goals from the Mohammed Babangida, Bello Buba, Ibrahim Mohammed and Aminu Alhaji that saw them reclaim the initiative and pull clear.
Team patron, Babangida was understandably delighted with EL-Amin’s first major win this year against their great rival, which sets them up nicely for a possible Georgian Cup curtain-raiser against Kakuri at the Kaduna International Polo Tournament holding at the legendary Murtala Mohammed in November.
“The IBB Cup and Minna annual tournament is a major part of our build up towards other high goal tournaments and to win the event’s biggest prize and General Abdulsalami Cup as well before our teeming supporters who traveled from across the country to cheer us, is a major plus,” Babangida said.
“We will now go back home and savour this victory, then after the Ramadan we will be back in camp to focus on our future tournaments. We know that it is not going to be easy but we have the chemistry and what it takes to come out clear,” stressed Babangida.
The Kaduna based El-Amin was the brightest star of the prestigious Minna event, retaining the event’s biggest prize, the glittering General Abdulsalami Cup and carting home personal awards in an action-packed week that was hailed by everyone from royalties to politicians, business gurus, diplomats and polo enthusiasts.
“I feel great to realise how much joy one’s effort has positively impacted the lives of the teeming polo enthusiasts across the country and Minna in particular. Their support and belief in EL-Amin has always been the driving force and I want to dedicate these victories to our teeming fans,” Babangida declared.
As in all high stake polo competitions in the country, the fight was always going to be a four-way battle pitching Kaduna, Katsina, Port Harcourt and host Minna. Yola, Bauchi, Zaria and Jos were not really ready for the fierce Minna polo rumble.
As the festival climax with pomp, it was not too surprising that at the end of the competition that threw up plenty of anxious moments, the prizes were evenly shared by the big four, with Kaduna EL-Amin smiling home with the juiciest part of the pie.
Babangida added another special to his loaded caps as he stepped out to lead Minna Air Peace to their first Governor’s Cup, while Katsina Danmarina got their wish, defeating a determined field to clinch the General Hassan Cup.
The IBB Sports Complex, venue of the glamorous annual polo carnival, was always filled to capacity on a daily basis, as the battle for the coveted Emir of Minna Cup rage and when the dust finally settled, it was Port Harcourt’s Octopus Clan who had the last laugh, carting home the royal polo crown.
Governors Bindo, Bello and , Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF) President, Francis Ogboro, were led by the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Farouk Bahago to give out prizes to the winners at the colourful closing ceremony.
“I congratulate the winners and the losers alike and urged them to remain disciplined and always adhere to the rules of the game not only during tournaments, but while playing their clubs chukkas,” Ogboro declared in his closing remarks.