|Season 48||W||5 - 2||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Champions Split Booty
Chow Poaches Point
Grilled kicked off the seventh edition of the SG Super Cup with a 2-2 draw against two-time winners Be Champions FC. Despite dictating the balance of play in the first half, the Birds came up dry in front of goal after Tian got them going, and debuting goalkeeper Edmund Kryus
did little to assuage the concerns of the home support after being found wanting on one of the visitors' few chances.
This would be the second tournament meeting between the sides, with Grilled coming up tops 5-2 two seasons ago on a Slavcho Tzonkov double. Grilled kept with a largely unchanged side, Stacey, Tzonkov and Paolo Iten being the changes, while Be Champions FC had improved more markedly. Guatemalan national goalkeeper Edmundo Ortega was of the class that would have the Birds support salivating, and he was further shielded by former Joker 9 national defender Mohd Ezmi bin Muhammad Fahmi, whose 'EZ-Link' moniker is a household name.
For all that, Grilled probably still retained the upper hand, if only just, as their well-oiled forward machine clicked into action. Eschewing width in favour of unrelenting pressure down the middle, the first few waves were diverted easily enough by the Champions backline, but none of them expected Tian Yonghang
to be able to hoist it over Ortega and under his crossbar on an off-balance swing.
Tian was not about to apologize for that, though, and celebrated it with all the fervour of a painstakingly-planned masterpiece. At the other end, Kryus made his first save as a Grilled player off Foo Ah De, after the U-20 superstar midfielder stretched impressively to reach a layoff from Oh Kian Lai.
The Birds would be kicking themselves for not adding to their lead before half-time, after Abdul bin Jantan
shimmied in from the right at just the right time for Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
to play him in, only for his snappy shot to come off the upright. Chow Ying Lee
had the presence of mind to take the rebound on the half-volley, but that too was thwarted by French wingback Wilhem Larose's backside.
The repercussions would be felt soon enough as Mohd Ezmi equalized six minutes after the restart, courtesy of 25 year-old Hungarian winger Dávid Budai streaking past Ling Fuquan
not once but twice. The big defender attacked the cross with such power that even Madaini, no stranger to aerial duels himself, was basically brushed aside.
Champions were by now seriously threatening out wide, with Aleksandar Damjanović pegging both Madaini and Djekshenkulov back by himself on the right, and Grilled had their hands full preventing a second. They did find the woodwork again, this time off a Madaini free-kick.
The match seemed hopelessly bogged down when Gan Haoxiang shook it up completely in the 84th minute. The veteran forward seemed to have lost his own footing a couple of metres inside the penalty area after tussling briefly with Zhu Changchun
, but to Grilled's horror, referee Barr Irwin instantly blew for the penalty.
The players couldn't make Irwin change his mind, and Wilhem Larose banished any hope Kryus had of becoming a penalty saviour with a solidly hit effort to the bottom right corner. Zhu was seen going for the referee after it went in, only to be restrained by his teammates.
It was not over yet, however, as Grilled went down route one in desperation and were for once rewarded. Mohd Safri towered above his marker to flick it accurately to longtime partner Chow Ying Lee
's feet, and Chow raided magnificently into the box with Tian in support. Ortega nearly kept it out, but Chow's hammered strike was too strong in the end.