By :Azhar ul haq wahid
Lahore : Master Paints clinched the Aquafina Allama Iqbal Polo Cup after beating BN Polo in the sudden death chukker by 10-9 in the main final played here at the Jinnah Polo and Country Club (JP&CC) on Sunday.
Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) Chairman Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi graced the finals as chief guest and distributed prizes and shields among the winners. Other notables present on the occasion were GOC 10 Div Maj Gen Aneeq-ur-Rehman Malik, GOC 11 Div Maj Gen Muhammad Raza Aizad, JP&CC President Col (r) Shoaib Aftab, Secretary Maj (r) Baber Mehboob Awan, polo players and their families and polo enthusiasts, who witnessed and enjoyed each and every moment of the enthralling and exciting final.
Marcos Panelo emerged as hero of the final as he not only played outstanding polo but also contributed with fabulous five goals while his teammates Mumtaz Abbas Niazi hammered a hat-trick and Juan Cruz Losada and Raja Jalal Arslan converted one goal each. Eulogio Celestino played exceptionally for BN Polo by smashing in superb six goals while Tito Ruiz Guinazu banged in a brace and Raja Mikael Sami hit one, but their efforts couldn’t bear fruit for their side as they lost the final with just one goal margin 9-10.
Both the finalists were off to flying start as they converted two goals each in the first chukker to make it 2-all. BN Polo played better polo in the second chukker and thrashed in two goals against one by Master Paints to earn a slight 4-3 lead. The highly-charged third chukker saw Master Paints prevailing over BN Polo and smashing in fabulous five goals against two by BN Polo to gain an 8-6 lead.
Master Paints converted one more goal in the beginning of the fourth and last chukker to enhance their lead to 9-6 but BN Polo then changed their gears and started playing aggressive game by thrashing in in three back-to-back goals to level the score at 9-all. No more goal was scored by both sides in the fourth chukker, and the match was then decided in the sudden death chukker, where Raja Jalal Arslan malleted the match-winning goal to guide their side to a well-deserving 10-9 title triumph.
Speaking on the occasion, PPA Chairman Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi HI (M) said: “The tournament was named after ‘Poet of the East’ Allama Iqbal on my directives, and I am very glad to witness the high-quality polo on offer during the final by top national and international players in this 14-goal tournament. I also congratulate the club management for conducting this prestigious tournament in a befitting manner and I announce Rs one million for the club.”
Earlier, an exhibition match of the kids was played between Team Red and Team White and after a tough fight, Team Red emerged as winner with a score of 2-1. From Team Red, Muhammad Matloob Aizad and Sofia converted one goal apiece while Mustafa scored the lone goal from Team Red.