2011 African Patrons Cup Polo Championship

2011 African Patrons Cup Polo Championship Day

 

Damian Duncan’s and Musty Fashinro’s Linetrale Delaney made history at Fifth Chukker to win the 2011 African Patrons Cup for the second year in a row, with a nail-biting 9-8 victory over Adamu Atta’s AMG.  Having previously seen off the strength of Diego White’s Fifth Chukker and YY Deebee – featuring South African 6-goaler Gareth Evans and Nigeria’s Dawule Buba – Linetrale Delaney triumphed over the great Argentine 7-goal player Manuel Crespo and the extremely talented Patricio Caesar.  The tournament consisted of seven teams with players coming from as far as Argentina and South Africa.

 

Going into extra time, the match – which was ultimately decided by a beautifully executed penalty from Marcelo Pascual – was being talked about as one of the most in exciting finals of the African Patrons Cup.  With the game hanging in the balance until the final penalty, it was played with two fully committed teams playing fast, thrilling polo.

 

The immaculate organisation and superior horsepower of Linetrale Delany – named after Duncan’s and Fashinro’s respective companies – shone through as they continually broke down AMG’s defence and shot accurately at goal.  Pascual, a 6-goaler who runs his own polo resort and clinic in his native Argentina, proved to be Linetrale Delaney’s secret weapon as he slotted penalty after penalty with ease.  The experienced player, and regular visitor to Nigeria, held his nerve to score the winning goal.  And to top it off, Correntina, Pascual’s horse sold to Duncan, was awarded Best Playing Pony by Senator Ahmed Markarfi (former Govenor of Kaduna State).  Pascual’s aggression and agility was perfectly balanced by his brother-in-law teammate Frankie Menendez, named Most Valuable Player.  Menendez’s power and unbelievably fast reactions saved many goals and held the Linetrale Delaney team together.  He proved to be a tough player and fully justified his Most Valuable Player award.  Not wanting to be outdone by their Argentine professionals, Nigerian based Duncan and Fashinro both pulled their weight in the team and showed they were not afraid to mix with the likes of Crespo and Caesar, Duncan displayed pinpoint accuracy whilst Fashinro was energetic in defence.  Duncan and Fashinro marked their opposing players well and contributed well to the battled to victory.

 

A delighted Pascual said of his second African Patrons Cup victory: “It is never easy in Nigeria, but we played a good game and the horses were fantastic.  The polo here has grown a lot, they have improved the fields and the horses so the polo is now safer and nicer to play”.  MVP Menendez added to that: “The game was hard to play, it was tactical and we had to fight hard at the end.  We had luck on our side and the game could have gone either way”.

 

AMG were gracious in defeat and had to contend themselves with second place, but they should be praised for their gallant come back in the final chukka and the fight they put up throughout the match.  At times during the final AMG looked like they could walk away with the trophy.  Crespo scored consistent penalties and despite losing, his reputation has stayed in tact, while Caesar showed dazzling speed in attack sending weighted long passes to Atta and Mohammed to convert.  On both teams the four Nigerian players proved that they are more than capable of competing on the international polo stage.  Chairman of the HPA, Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers said after the game: “It was very exciting at the end, and the improvement in ground maintenance, horsecare and organisation is clearly visible.  There is a natural talent in Nigeria which can certainly be realised at an international level”.

 

Last but by no means least, a worthy mention must go to the many people responsible forthe outstanding grounds at Fifth Chukker and the impeccable organisation of the tournament behind the scenes – to name a few Adamu, Babangida, Yusuf, Billy, Ciccio, each incredibly generous patron, and the sponsors Stanbic IBTC.