2017 KANO POLO TOURNAMENT
Almat Group polo team has added the Dantata Cup to their growing shelf with an impressive outing at the just concluded 2017 Kano International Polo Tournament. The team won the revered Dantata Cup on first attempt.
Powered by their patron, Maurice Ekpenyong, the Abuja-based Almat polo kings, defeated a strong field of four other teams to extend their unbeaten run to five tournaments in the prestigious and highly competitive Nigerian polo circuit that is picking steam as the road tour intensifies.
Almat was rated outsider by bookmakers in the Dantata Cup which paraded two home-based champions, Kano Titans and Kano Dantex and two other ambitious teams with established names in polo and fortified with intimidating horse-power. Almat only had self-belief and determination as its biggest weapons.
It ultimately proved to be the eventâ€™s biggest surprise of the international polo fiesta, as Ekpenyong and his Almat Boys, Nura Suleiman, Idris Badamasi and Argentine import, Francisco Pancho stunned one of home crowd favoutires, Kano Terra 11-6 in their opening game to jump into the driverâ€™s seat of the second most wanted polo prize in the century old Kano polo carnival.
Their final game against the long traveling Port Harcourt team was the game changer, with Maurice and his warriors cruising to comfortable 9-31/2 victory against their Niger Delta opponents, taking their goal haul to 20 goals and an incredible ten-goal difference. Kano Polo Chairman, Alhaji Bashir Dantata who has played every Kano tournament in the last 40 years describe the feat as a rear achievement in Nigerian polo history.
Dantata whose team Dantex edged local rivals Titans and Port Harcourt to finish runners up in the Dantata Cup race, believes that one needs to dig deep into Nigerian polo archives to produce a record that would match the record set by Abuja Almat, as such feat only rarely comes in the history of the tournament and Dantata Cup in particular.
â€œThey just left everybody standing even before the final games of the round-robin format competition. I congratulate their resolve and determination that fetched them such a sensational victory. I do wish them well as the season continues as Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing them next year, to defend the title,â€ the Kano polo supremo added.
That Dantata Cup record victory was their third major title this year, after emerging the overall champions at the glamorous Unity Polo Tournament in Abuja last May and also finishing tops at the Keffi Ranch International Polo Tournament earlier.
“I’m kind of glad,” he Maurice with a broad smile. “We are looking forward to maintaining the tempo and adding more polo laurels to our growing trophy shelf this year and the years to come,â€ he enthused moment after receiving the glittering Dantata Cup from the Emir of Bauchi representative, Alhaji Sanusi Isa Aska.
“I think he’ll be a major high-goal champion within the next couple of years, personally,” Bello Buba, Nigeriaâ€™s top rated player observed. “It’s awesome to see Maurice and his players tearing it up there in the medium and the intermediate cups category.â€
The good run for Almat started with the victory in Kaduna at the UNICEF Charity Shield last year and ended with another smasher at the Keffi Polo Ranch Open Tournament last December.
For polo aficionados, that was a rare feat for a young team that competed for honours in just two majors last year.
The incredible victory run of Almat Polo Team galloped off last October with the UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament at the Fifth Chukker & Country Resort in Kaduna where Maurice and his squad won their first General Hassan Katsina Cup.