2018 African Open: Nige­ria, South Africa share lime­light at Rose­field

Sunday Trust - - FEVER PITCH - Sto­ries by Ernest Ekpeny­ong

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.