2018 African Open: Nigeria, South Africa share limelight at Rosefield
Africa’s prestigious continental polo tournament, the 2018 African Open has again witnessed yet another rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa in the noble game of kings at the Rosefield Polo Club in Johannesburg.
Mohammed Babangida and his teammates enjoyed massive support as the Nigerian Deputy High Commissioner led thousands of Nigerians resident in Johannesburg to cheer the Eagles throughout the fiercely fought continental polo event.
The Babangida led Eagles comprising, Nigeria’s top rated Bello Buba, Malik Badamasi, Idris Badamasi and Ibrahim Mohammed, started the explosive match up on a cautious note that gifted the Bafanas a huge lead in the first two chukkas.
But when the Eagles took full flight, the South Africa who held on to win 6-4, could not score a single goal in the last four chukkas of the match.
Babangida and Malik who scored twice each accounted for Nigeria’ four goals haul. The Eagles were on the verge pushing their host to a draw and a possible decisive extra chukka duel had late shots from Babangida and Buba not bounce off the post in the dying minutes of the match.
The Nigerian captain, who hailed their South African hosts for their warm reception, described Nigerian participation in the Open as a huge success. “We started slow because we were trying to get used to the horses and by the time we got into our strides, it was difficult for our host to catch up as they could only held on to the early rush,” Babangida told Polo Royals.
“We were not lacking in support as Nigerians resident in Joburg led by our Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, came out in their droves to cheer us and I must add that the atmosphere was great before, during and after the match.”
Bello Buba who was singled out as one of the best performers on the day,say the South Africans were lucky to run away with the win because he and his teammates had little time to get used to the mounts.
“We left South Africa with our head high because we represented our country well and the Nigerians and the other teeming polo buffs who witnessed the match were proud of our teamwork and discipline,” Buba added.
Off the pitch, Babangida described the visit and the African Open Polo event as a veritable tool at African integration, a window for exchange of business ideas and a strong platform for the promotion of African polo.
Managing director of the South African Polo Association Clive Peddle, who described the Nigerian team as major force in African polo, said the primary objective of the African Open Polo was to promote game at all level in the continent.
Both Clive and Baba Kyari who was the head of the Nigerian delegation to the Open, noted that the match was keenly contested as the players on both sides display awesome skills and compact team work which is a reflection of how much the game has improved in Africa.
The Nigerian National Polo team set for the African Open Polo Tournament in Rosefield, South Africa.