*Ends season unbeaten
By Oluwole Francis
Almat Group polo team claimed a comfortable win at the just concluded 2017 Unity International Polo Tournament at 12 -12 Polo & Turf Club, to stretch their victory run to five.
The winning run that started last year at the African patrons Polo championship at Fifth Chukker Polo & Country Resort in Kaduna with a sensational victory in the General Hassan cup series, has added four highly revered titles to their growing victory shelf.
These include other heavyweight polo diadems like the Orphanage Cup in Keffi last May, The Democracy Tournament top Prize in Abuja, Dantata Cup on first attempt in Kano, the unprecedented victory against Seyi Tinubu’s STL Titan in Kaduna, to retain the General Hassan title and now, the talk of the town President Cup victory at 12-12.
This is a remarkable victory records for the Almat polo lords inaugurated only four years ago at the serene Guards Polo Club in Asokoro, Abuja. Their sensational winning streak this season, has already confirmed them as top contenders for Best Team of the Year award.
Their patron, Maurice Ekpenyong, has earned a deserved handicap elevation by the polo ruling authority recently, is up there alone in the race for the New Patron of the Year award.
Of these victories, Maurice picks the African Patrons Cup victory as the toughest, basically for its cutting edge competition and their self believe in turning their rookies rating to glittering gold. Lined up against legends and professionals from Argentina and South Africa, Ekpenyong and his Boys caught fire and stole the headlines with a historic debut win.
Last year, the medium-goal champions wrote themselves into Nigeria Polo’s history books at continental tourney, earning their first ever major championship history with a scintillating victory against Amana Insurance team.
That much was repeated last October when Almat came back from the dead to upturn a two goal deficit to a made in heaven victory, with Rabiu Mohammed scoring on the dot of time to hand his patron and teammates a back-to-back General Hassan title.
“This is awesome. This is the one event as a Nigerian you want to win. “There’s a lot of history about the prize (General Hassan Katsina Cup) and a lot of great winners on the trophy and I’m very glad to be able to put my name on the trophy as well.” Ekpenyong recalled the historic victory.
“Up against a more determined oppositions this year, (2017) we knew we had to stay patient and take the chances when they came. “It’s a very special.” Maurice added: “We’ve played brilliantly all year and we are already looking forward for 2018 season with optimism.
Two weeks before the Kaduna encore, Almat had cause another polo upheaval in Kano, snatching the event’s second most wanted prize, the Dantata Cup shocking out four regulars and bookmakers to the marrow.
‘We are never afraid of any challenge no matter how intimidating the oppositions look, because we have all it takes to win.” Reveal Maurice. “Our thanks go to our teeming fans for urging us on throughout the season.”
With four of the six medium cups in their kitty, it look like there is no holding back for the Abuja based Almat Group as they eye, the Open Cup in Lagos, another President Cup in Port Harcourt and Emir of Katsina Cup in Kaduna in 2018 season.