EL-Amin cements supremacy with 16th IBB Cup Title
They are rated as one of the biggest teams in the land. They have some of the most resilient stars in their midst, yet El-Amin never rests on their oars.
El-Amin are Nigeria’s most successful high-goal polo team and they just showed why they are so revered at the just concluded Minna 2016 Polo Tournament by ruthlessly dispatching their rivals, Kaduna Kakuri, to retain the Georgian Cup. Their ruthless display of finishing was as awe inspiring as it was a timely warning to their rivals that they are not ready to take prisoners. They head into other tournaments in the national tour full of confidence.
Kakuri dribbler, Ibrahim Babangida had pushed his ambitious side on a revenge mission with a goal in the early minutes of the cracking final that had two state governors, Senator Bindo of Adamawa and host Abubakar Sani Bello Niger, first class Emirs from the north and thousands of polo buffs all watching from the edge of their seats.
However, just as the physical Kakuri appeared to have taken control of the contest, the reigning champions who were not prepared to risk their treasured title, came storming back with three quick fires from the Polo’s own ‘Big Boss,’ Mohammed Babangida, Bello Buba, Ibrahim Mohammed and Aminu Alhaji. They regained the initiative and from thence never looked back.
Team patron, Babangida was understandably delighted with EL-Amin’s first major win this year against their great rival, which sets them up nicely for a possible Georgian Cup curtain-raiser against Kakuri at the Kaduna International Polo Tournament billed to hold at the legendary Murtala Mohammed turf in November.
“The IBB Cup and Minna annual tournament is a major part of our build up towards other high goal tournaments and to win the event’s biggest prize and General Abdulsalami Cup, as well before our teeming supporters, who travelled from across the country to cheer us, is a major plus,” Babangida said.
He revealed: “We will now go back home and savour this victory, then after the Fasting and the Ramadan Holidays, it will be back in camp to focus on our future tournaments. We know that it is not going to be easy but we have the chemistry and what it takes to come out clears.”
The Kaduna-based El-Amin was the brightest star of the prestigious Minna event, retaining the event’s biggest prize, the glittering General Abdulsalami Cup and carting home personal awards in an action packed week that was hailed by everyone including the royalty, politicians, business gurus, diplomats and polo enthusiasts.
“I feel great to realize how much joy one’s effort has positively impacted the lives of the teeming polo enthusiasts across the country and Minna in particular. Their support and believe in EL-Amin has always been the driving force and I want to dedicate these victories to our teeming fans,” Babangida declared.
As in all high stake polo competitions in the country, the fight was always going to be a four-split battle pitching Kaduna, Katsina, Port Harcourt and host, Minna. Yola, Bauchi, Zaria and Jos were not really ready for the fierce Minna polo rumble.
As the festival climaxed with pomp, it was not too surprising that at the end of the competition that threw up plenty of anxious moments, the prizes were evenly shared by the big four, with Kaduna EL-Amin smiling home with the juiciest part of the pie.
Babangida added another special to his loaded caps as he stepped out to lead Minna Air Peace to their first Governor’s Cup, while Katsina Danmarina got their wish, defeating a determined field to clinch the General Hassan Cup.
The IBB Sports Complex, venue of the glamorous annual polo carnival, was always full to capacity on a daily basis, as the battle for the coveted Emir of Minna Cup raged. When the dust finally settled, it was Port Harcourt Octopus Clan who had the last laugh, carting home the royal polo crown.
Governors Bindo, Bello and Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF) President, Francis Ogboro, were led by HRH, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Farouk Bahago, to give out prizes to the winners at the colourful closing ceremony.
“I congratulate the winners and the losers alike and urge them to remain disciplined and always adhere to the rules of the game not only during tournaments, but while playing their clubs’ chukkas,” Ogboro declared in his closing remarks.