Instead they must bring their best polo to the table as they face defending Dubai Gold Cup champions and home side, Habtoor Polo in their first match at 4pm tomorrow afternoon.
Yet Rodolfo Ducos, one of three Argentine professionals who will play alongside patron, Amr Zedan in the Dubai Gold Cup Series, is confident of a strong showing from his teammates.
“We have only played three practice games this week whereas some of the other teams in the competition have played a few competitive tournaments by this stage in the season,” said the four-goal handicapper, who is also recovering from knee surgery. “Maybe the preparation has not been ideal and there is no doubt that Habtoor are tough, but we are very confident.
“We are very well mounted and we have some great players, including one of the best players in the world, Nachi Heguy, who played in the Argentine Open this year.”
Indeed Heguy may well be Zedan Polo’s trump card. Described by Ducos as the “Lionel Messi of polo”, the player has won the renowned Argentine Open four times, and is one of only a handful of players in the world to have made it to a ten handicap.
Now playing off nine, Heguy is likely to be man marked by opposing players.
“Polo is a very tactical game and that comes into play even more when you have a player like Nachi on the team,” said Ducos.
“I don’t know Habtoor’s game plan, but I can guess that they are likely to have one man who is told, ‘forget the ball, just stay with Nachi’ and so it will be up to the rest of us to play our polo in a way that opens up the game and allows Nachi to get free. It will be very interesting.”
The Dubai Gold Cup Series, which comprises both the Silver Cup, which takes place all this week, and the flagship Gold Cup, which takes place next month, is one of the fastest-paced and highly-coveted polo titles in the region.
“It is a big tournament and to be drawn against one of the danger teams in our first game is exciting and challenging,” said Ducos. “Obviously Nachi is a key element of our team, he can win a game by himself, but just because you have the highest handicapped player, it doesn’t mean you are sure of success, so we will be working very hard out there to stay strong as a team and play open, attacking polo.”
Amr Zedan, the team patron who is Chairman and Group President of Saudi Arabian company, the Zedan Group, is also looking forward to getting onto the field of play.
A familiar face in the UAE he has also played polo in some of the most glamorous and competitive tournaments in the world, including Sotogrande, St Moritz and The Queen’s Cup. For now his focus is firmly on Dubai Polo Club and the Silver Cup.
“I have been playing polo for over a decade but I only founded Zedan Polo in 2010,” he said. “Since then we have progressed very quickly to rival the region’s biggest sides and this tournament will serve as a litmus test for our development so far.”
Zedan Polo go into today’s clash backed up by some good form. They are the reigning HH President of the UAE Polo Cup Champions, a title they claimed after defeating a number of the teams who will be in action this week.
“You are only as good as your last game and there will be no easy matches so we are taking nothing for granted,” said Zedan, who was crowned the highest-scoring amateur player at the President’s Cup last year. “The standard is going to be very high and there will be a lot at stake, so I think every match will be an exciting and fast-paced affair.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing some polo.”