The first stage of the ongoing Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield International Polo Tournament came to a flourishing climax last weekend, with outsiders, RTC and Work-to-Ride from USA upstaging favourites, Rubicon and DeeBee Farms in sensational victories.
The race for the medium-goal Access Bank Cup that pitted nine teams complete with foreign professionals, lived its un-predictive traditional to the last, as Kano RTC came from three goals down in the last chukka, to beat Rubicon 11-10 in the final.
The American visitors, who lost the title to American University in Nigeria (AUN) team from Yola last year, held on to win the glittering UNICEF Cup 5-4, in a tense final against their Kaduna opponents.
Watched by a capacity crowd that included some members of the National Assembly, traditional rulers and thousands of polo enthusiasts, Kano RTC, who were trailing 7-10 with just one chukka to go, lunched a late rally, scoring four un-replied goals to clinch their first Access Bank Cup title in a sensational victory.
In what would go down as the most competitive Access Bank Cup in the annals of the prestigious polo fiesta, Rubicon jumped into the front from the blast of the whistle, with their Argentine import, Fernando Bourdieu scoring three field goals in the opening chukka. But their lead did not last as RTC’s pivot, Diego White replied in kind with three penalties goals to draw level in the second chukka.
Cheered on by their supporters, Rubicon opened up a three goal cushion in the third and fourth chukkas, as they were coasting home for their first major title in the glamorous Access Bank powered charity Shield event after missing out in their first ever final four years ago.
Everything went fine for the Senator Hadi Sirika Rubicon, until Kano RTC turn the final on its head with a strike by Murtala Aliyu late into the chukka, while Diego White’s winner with just eight seconds left on the clock, to send their teeming Kano fans into wild jubilation.
“This is unbelievable. Nobody gave us a chance, but by cheer determination and the overwhelming support of our fans, we made it to the final and produced a stunning victory over hot favourites to win the glittering Access Bank Cup,” declared Kano RTC patron, Musty Shereef.
“We never lose faith in our ability to win despite the awesome experience and the superior horse power of our opponents. Today we are the champions and we are confident that come next year, we would defend this hard earned victory,” he added.
Shereef, thank the organizers for bring out the best in his squad, the fans for their support and dedicated their first Access Bank Cup title to their teeming fans and the less privilege children, whose supports fired RTC throughout their victorious campaign.
Access Bank Manager, Kaduna, Mukhtar Abdulmutallab, who cheered every moment of the exciting Cup final, presented the glittering Access Bank Cup to the winners. He was assisted during the presentation ceremony by UNICEF’s External Relations Manager, Rabiu Musa from the Kaduna Office.
Murtala Aliyu of RTC and Daymar Rosser of Work-to Ride team, were named the Most Valuable Player in the Access Bank Cup and the UNICEF Cup series, while the Argentine mare, Startime was decorated as the Best Playing Pony.