Shen - God?
Keeping true to his pre-match promises, Alcántara put a very strong trio comprising of Kek-Tjiang, Siu-Yue and Paullin into the midfield, relegating Dani Spirig
to the right wing. Their manifest experience was too much for Cup opponents Rollin' Thunder to reasonably stop, but Grilled were still made to sweat hard before finishing 4-1 up.
The impressive Jörgen Falkbo
made his Singapore Cup entrance as captain, and some of his luck rubbed off on Bona when a mighty shot carromed off his head in the ninth minute. Siu-Yue held it up wisely, while Bona seized the chance to plunge himself into the attack. Thunders' back four were in disarray as the untouchable Hidde van Liere
blazed up on the left, pulling a cross behind the forwards that the extra man Bona struck into goal.
Grilled raised their game a level, playing before their biggest audience ever of ninety-nine thousand souls. Spirig increased observers' estimations of his attitude by trawling the wings in a hardworking manner, and in the fifteenth minute he supplied a cool chip that Langeland helped into the net.
Rollin' Thunder's spine of goalkeeper Ernesto Barrionuevo, defender Odd Kullenbratt, midfielder Ahamat bin Ahmad and point man Lars Adolfsson held firm, and these four were near faultless as they helped out the rest of the side. Grilled sensed little danger with Thunder only fielding one striker, and only produced one more chance in the half, albeit a very good one that Langeland overhit.
The game was well shaken up when Thunder pulled one back against the run of play, with central defender Mikey Beardsall sent up as an emergency striker and getting his head to a well-aimed inswinger by nippy American winger Melvin Shorter. Falkbo for once was responsible as he had no way of stopping Shorter once the latter had taken the inside line.
Needing only one more to take the tie into extra time, Rollin' Thunder's men put in exceptional effort, attacking constantly against a suddenly-defensive Grilled Birds. One player stood up to be counted, though, and Shen Kek-Tjiang
put his name well up on the list of contenders for this season's player of the season with his titanic influence.
Grilled were wanting for bite with Martinsson strangely subdued and Langeland floundering, so Kek-Tjiang's push up against his nature was a real godsend. van Liere, finally seeing a target for his crosses, sent one to Kek-Tjiang's feet, and he automatically booted a real cannonball that Barrionuevo got a hand to but couldn't alter the course of.
Three minutes later, Shen got Grilled's passport into the seventh round stamped and visaed as he received the ball smack in the middle of the opponents' half and dared all to dispossess him with an imperious dribble towards goal. With his defenders engaged, Kullenbratt tried to heckle Shen but was held off in a physical tussle. Barrionuevo came off his line to assist, but it was a bad move as Shen noticed and chipped the keeper neatly.
The final ten minutes proceeded after Shen got himself disentangled from the ensuing taupok celebrations, and he immediately began shouting at his teammates to defend the three-goal cushion. Rollin' Thunder threw the kitchen sink at Grilled as they saw no point in any defence at all, and Grilled's half buzzed with activity. However, Thunder could achieve little more than tripping up Bona, and their fine Cup run ended there and then.