|Season 59||W||2 - 6||Cup|
|Season 58||L||4 - 3||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Chardon Dumps Birds Out
Despite Djan Bacelar
's best efforts, fortune simply didn't favour Grilled at Olympic Lyons Park, as they were put out by II.3 leaders Villains F.C.. The Villains, who had lifted the big one just three seasons ago, seemed eminently beatable, especially after resting several key pieces. They hadn't managed a seven-match winning streak without being robust, however, and would do just about enough to get through.
While it was not exactly a weak team that the Villains put out, the absence of hugely-experienced first-choice goalie Samad Abd Hadi Taib alone - and his replacement by the unrated Chatur Jonnala - was sufficient for their fans to doubt their commitment to the competition. Finnish player-coach Petri Puustinen would start in defence alongside two other reserves, while Haris Mustafa filled in at right wing.
And they would soon be given cause to question this decision, as the Birds went ahead after just three minutes. Tian Yonghang
received the ball in a crowded area, and found himself sprawling over Lukas Löver's outstretched foot in an instant. It looked as if Tian was looking for that, but Ivano Hitzlberger called it nonetheless, and Gene Filippone
would slot past Jonnala without trouble.
That was about as far as luck went for Grilled, as it turned out. While Gennady Dvorak
had certainly recovered well from his layoff, there was still a little something missing from his game, which had the opponents escape several close shaves unharmed. Jonnala certainly had to live through a shaky start, but he did well to prevent the Villains from falling further behind.
Then, the equaliser. Villains F.C. had not been overly eager to venture forth as yet, but they did retain a top-class attacking line. Julien Picque, the Frenchman who got their comeback off the ground against Shining Lights in their memorable Cup final, would drop it off with Henryk Korzym - who struck the winner then - in the 23rd. While not particularly prolific, Korzym certainly had a knack for scoring important goals, and he did it again with a stiff peg to the far corner.
was again Grilled's main driver from midfield, but he met his match in Balbino Breixas, whose sheer workrate kept Prabhu from being able to create much if at all. He did nearly pull the spectacular off in the 43rd minute, turning two defenders and opening a clear path to goal, but Mustafa saved the day for the Villains with a decisive jersey tug - at the cost of a booking for himself.
Mustafa would then top it off with the go-ahead goal. With time added on looming, the Birds had mounted what they thought would be the last attack of the half, but Jonnala made a great save off Mohammad Ramli Saliman
's off-balance header. It turned out that they had left their entire left flank empty in the process, and only had to be in the right place, to place Picque's assist into an empty net.
could not hide his exasperation at that lapse, with Hoàng Trung Quá
looking suitably embarassed at having abandoned his post. In his defence, the Vietnamese had been fully converted into a centreback during his time with Grilled, and his discomfiture at having to bomb up and down the sidelines was well evident.
When the time for him to be substituted came, Bacelar evidently chose to make a statement, eschewing usual forward sub Leong Wan Kang
for Moey Xin Seng
. While the armband went to Filippone, this was yet another clear signal that Moey was actively being groomed for leadership of the squad - as if he needed much help on that.
It was not merely symbolic either, as Moey more than made up for his relative lack of technical nous, with far more dynamic movement. It was something that the Villains midfield was less than prepared to cope with, and though he didn't make a direct contribution to Dvorak's instinctive finish in the 80th, he had probably contributed much to make it possible.
With the match again hanging in the balance, Puustinen made his adjustments, as Dvorak and company celebrated; Picque would recover to his preferred forward role, after having come in from wide, while the 38 year-old Farizul Jamal was replaced by current national winger, Daniel Yet.
This would be a masterstroke, albeit a not completely unexpected one, as Ang Leong Kum
found himself totally ill-equipped to confront a fresh Yet. While no slouch himself, Ang simply could not keep up, and clever off-the-ball runs in the 85th minute saw Pierre Chardon offer himself up, unmarked in the middle. Vittorio Martorella found him with a nice lob, which Chardon smashed in on the half-volley.
Villains weren't done, and they would destroy Grilled's Sapphire Challenger Cup ambitions for good, three minutes on. Once again, it was Yet tearing it up down the left side, and he sliced in an inviting low cross towards the six-yard box. Clark Won
could only deflect it towards Chardon, and the Frenchman certainly didn't need to be told what to do.