Midway through the 2016 RMPA Open, defending champions Thai Polo (pic right) are calling the shots with 2 and 0 record, but the three other teams are all still in the race for the cup, with a last round of qualifying games remaining to be played on Wednesday 3rd August.
The perfect record is perhaps a little flattering. Dato’ Harald Link’s Thai Polo team has not dominated their matches and needed a burst of three goals in the final minutes to put Royal Pahang away in their first match, and only a goal separated them from La Sarita.
La Sarita have a 0 and 2 record, but if they can beat Royal Pahang on Wednesday, both teams will have a 1-2 record. They will then hope that Thai Polo defeat HLF Polo, their conquerors of their first game, to give all three teams a 1-2 record. The who-beat-who rule would not be able to work, and all three teams with 1-2 records would have to go to a penalty shoot-out to decide the order of merit from 2nd to 4th places.
Juan Cruz Losada has not yet found the explosive form that made him 2015 RMPA International League’s Most Valuable Player, but La Sarita’s star cannot be discounted.
From Royal Pahang’s perspective, a win would give them two wins and give them a very good chance of a place in the final against Thai Polo. They will then be hoping Thai Polo dispense of HLF Polo. If they did, it would set-up a final of Thai Polo versus Royal Pahang, a match that is always epic. However, if HLF manage to beat Thai Polo, then Royal Pahang, HLF and Thai Polo would all have 2-1 records, and again a penalty shoot-out would be required to decide the two finalists.
Royal Pahang have been playing well with Tomas Llorente proving to be an explosive player in more ways than one. This passionate young man picked up the first yellow card of the tournament for an outburst in the match against HLF Polo on Sunday. It spurred him to produce some excellent polo to take Royal Pahang to a 8 1/2 – 8 win.
HLF Polo need two results to go in their favour. First, they will need La Sarita to beat Royal Pahang to have both those teams finish on 1-2 records. HLF Polo will then try to beat Thai Polo, to finish top of the standings with a 2-1 record, and the who-beat-who rule would apply to give them maximum points in the league. However, should Royal Pahang win and HLF Polo lose, Royal Pahang would go to the final against league round winners Thai Polo by virtue of a 2-1 record. If La Sarita and Thai Polo win, then there would be the three-way tie with three teams on 1-2 records. That would require the penalty shoot-out to decide Thai Polo’s opponents in the RMPA Cup Final.
Here are the results of qualifications so far:
If Who-Beat-Who cannot be used to determine the order of merit, then a penalty shoot-out shall be held, as follows:
- Any two (2) players from each team shall be nominated to take all the penalties on behalf of their team.
- The order of shooting to decide a Zone Order of Merit will be by a toss of coin if between two teams, the winner of the toss given the right to choose who shoots first. If between three teams or more, the order of shooting shall be decided by draw.
- Each player takes two penalties at 30 yards.
- Each player takes two penalties at 40 yards.
- If scores are tied, the shoot-out goes into sudden-death at 60 yards, with the first team to fall behind being eliminated from the shoot-out.
- The shoot-out continues till a complete order of merit is established.
- Teams may not change the sequence of penalty takers.
- Teams may not change penalty takers.
- Players may not change horses once the penalty shoot-out has begun, unless a horse goes lame (to be decided by the umpires).
About the RMPA Open and RMPA International League
The RMPA Open is part of the 12-goal RMPA International League, which comprises of four tournaments: Thai Polo Open, RMPA Open, Royal Pahang Classic and RMPA International League Final. League points are awarded for order of merit finishes at each of the four tournaments. Thai Polo are defending champions from 2014 and 2015. Thai Polo also lead the 2016 league with maximum points won at the Thai Polo Open which was played at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in January 2016. The Royal Pahang Classic will be played at the Royal Pahang Polo Club in Pekan, Pahang from 17th to 27th August. The RMPA International League Final will be played at the Royal Selangor Polo Club from 7th to 17th September. The team with the most league points will be crowned 2016 RMPA International League Champions on 17th September.
Sponsors of the RMPA International League are Royal Salute, EFG Private Bank, Jaeger-LeCoultre, First Elite by Celcom, MiCasa All Suite Hotel, Harper’s Bazaar, Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, The Royal Selangor Polo Club and Royal Pahang Polo Club.