High-scoring Ramiro Cordero’s golden goal in extra time earned his team, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, (ADAC) a berth in the Ghantoot Golden Cup Polo final.
The Argentine, a new arrival at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club this season, proved invaluable to his side, scoring four goals in normal time as well as the decider from his number three position with the game finishing 8-7.
ADAC will now take on the unbeaten hosts, Ghantoot, on Friday January 6.
In one of the most evenly-matched clashes seen at Ghantoot, both Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Polo Team (ADCB) and ADAC scored three goals in the opening of the four-chukker game.
Abdullah bin Desmal, Ali al Marri and Gonzalo Azumendi struck for ADCB, while Tariq bin Desmal, Cordero and Hugo Barabucci kept things even for ADAC.
ADAC then pulled ahead in the second period thanks to goals from Cordero and Barabucci but ADCB came out fighting in the third chukker, with Bruno Tassara scoring. With the score at 5-4 to ADAC, ADCB held nothing back in the fourth chukker, pulling back three goals thanks to two from al Marri and another from bin Desmal. But ADAC wouldn’t give up and Cordero got the ball between the posts two more times before the claxon.
In extra time it was ADAC who proved the stronger outfit, with Cordero’s goal claiming victory and the coveted spot in the Golden Cup final.
“It was a very close and exciting game,” said Cordero, whose team lost to Ghantoot 4-8 in the preliminary rounds of the Golden Polo Cup in December. “We knew that we had to play our best to beat them as both teams were striving for a place in the final and another shot at the Ghantoot Team.
“It was very satisfying to score the golden goal but it was a great team effort with every player contributing to the win. Now we look forward to a re-match with Ghantoot and we hope we can get the better of them this time.”
Abdullah bin Desmal said his team was disappointed to have been knocked out the tournament but could not fault the commitment of every player on the field.
“We may not be in the final, but we can be proud of that ADCB performance,” he said. “We knew it would be a tough game and we proved that we could match them goal for goal. Unfortunately they just managed to get the golden goal before we did. It’s a painful way to leave a tournament but that’s polo and we’ll be back another day.”
The final of the Golden Cup, which is held under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the chairman of Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, will be held on January 6.
The match is open to the public and free to attend.