The B Grimm ~ BMW Thai Polo Open finished with an epic final on Saturday 19th January. La Familia and Thai Polo went to sudden death before La Familia eventually emerged champions. It was a superbly balanced final, with neither team wiling to give an inch. Such was the defense of both teams that it was a low scoring, but totally enthralling encounter.
Thai Polo started marginally better, scoring the first goal from a Facundo Fernandez Llorente break-away from a pass from Carlos Pando. Thai Polo was dominant but unable to add any more to the score as the La Familia tactics were to play with Matias Vial Perez at deep back. It was not till the stroke of half time that La Familia equalised with a crucial goal by their patron, Dato Mohamed Moiz. He ran on to a through pass from Shaik Reismann and held off the bump from Dato’ Harald Link. The veteran patron still had a lot of work to do, but slotted the ball through the uprights with an assured shot.
In the second half, the match was extremely close, and very exciting. Thailand again led before Shaik Reismann equalized in the third chukka. Chilean World Cup star Matias Vial gave La Familia the lead in the 4th chukka, and Agustin Andrada had a chance to put the match to bed with two minutes to go, but Thai Polo stayed in it with desperate defending.
La Familia were leading, but only just hanging on, unable to get the second goal that would have made it safe. With the seconds to go, Facundo Fernandez Llorente launched another attack. Again it was broken up by the tenacious La Familia defense. As it came out to the sidelines, Carlos Pando backed it goal-wards again. Facundo swivelled, and in one swift move, slammed it high through the goal.
The bell was still ringing as La Familia registered the shock of the equalizer. The goal took the game to sudden death overtime.
Thai Polo was stronger in the extra period, pressing La Familia back into its own half. Two minutes into the sudden death period, Facundo Fernandez Llorente broke through on goal. It looked like a certain goal till Dato’ Mohamed met the ball with a crucial clearance. It was the shot that gave La Familia renewed hope. It brought the belief in themselves back.
Still Thai Polo still had one more chance to win the game. They were awarded a 60 yarder. It went wide to the right, and with it the pendulum swung in favour of La Familia again.
Matias Vial took it up field, controlling it at first and then running at the Thai Polo defense. He broke through from the left, and as he came in front of the Thai Polo goal, Juan Manuel Garcia Grossi came in for a desperate ride off that impeded Vial’s goal shot. It was a wild play, done in the heat of the moment, but also because Vial would surely have scored if he hadn’t done it. It was rightly blown by both professional umpires J J Diaz Alberdi and Ben Turner. Vial slammed the spot hit through the for the golden goal, much to the delight of the La Familia team and supporters.
Dato Mohamed was deservedly awarded the most valuable patron prize, and his pony, Paz, who had been played by Matias Vial, was adjudged the best playing pony.
It was a fourth Thai Polo Open win for Dato’ Mohamed, who had won it in 2008 with his BRDB team, 2009 as BRDB-Elevation, and tied for it with Thai Polo in 2017, playing as La Familia.
This epic final will be long remembered for the excitement of the game.