Singa Songo Sixpence
Cyril Says So
Grilled breezed through their fixture against Singa Songo at Zwanga Zwanga as most expected, as Polish winger Cyril Künzler
contributed four goals to bring his league total for the season to eight, and claim top billing in the Golden Boot race. Frankly, however, the level of play was nothing to shout about for the Birds, with them no closer to fixing their shooting malaise up top.
While the preceding five rounds have conclusively shown that Songo were not yet up to the rigours of Division Three football, it has to be remembered that they are barely a full season into their reorganization from the former De_Sangkakala United, and that Dimal Dushi taking them to a league title was a feat in itself.
The Albanian head coach had been realistic about the double-edged sword this entailed, though, and with their budget not allowing any meaningful reinforcements, there would be very hard times ahead for the club. Young Polish forward Marian Steć had been a revelation as he maintained near a goal a game through most of last season, but this was never going to continue against much stiffer opposition.
The Birds would count as one of those, all the more as they kept their guard up, fielding a near full-strength XI with the exception of Prokop Mottl
. Songo were faithful to their custom 4-3-3, but as again, Kwa Siong Wee's unorthodox wide left berth felt slightly pointless, against Grilled's full-spectrum onslaught. Florus Romijn
was not properly contained as a consequence, and he duly played Cyril Künzler
in to open the scoring in the eighth minute.
The scoreline should be remembered in the context of some poor finishing in this half, and while Songo captain Soo Leng Yi must be recognized for his many fine saves, though he should frankly not have been allowed to even attempt a large proportion of those. Moey Xin Seng
hitting the bar under no pressure was a good example, and even Künzler was guilty of aiming his lob straight at Soo. Kalki Parvathaneni
's own head-on effort in the 32nd, then, was merely par for the course.
Still, there was little hint of any danger from the hosts, and Grilled would eventually get through again, with Cyril Künzler
angling in a free-kick from a fairly tight angle. Songo were left no time to contemplate whether they should have put more than just Kong Feng How in that wall, as they immediately gave away a soft penalty. Künzler stepped up for his hat-trick, and he got it with a dash of style, waiting for Soo to commit to diving before striking it down the middle.
With victory surely in the bag by now, the Birds slowly shifted over to a more relaxed manner of play, which however did them little harm. Chu Xin Lee
was definitely enjoying himself with his little taps and tricks, even if most of them didn't come off. His creativity from the indirect free-kick awarded in the 57th minute for dangerous play did pay off, and Moey Xin Seng
was left with an easy finish, after the Songo defence had all been drawn over to the right side.
Iranian trainee Iman Eshrafi
replaced the quiet Prokop Mottl
after this, right in time for Parvathaneni to befuddle Sathyaraj Yadav with a sudden pullback, into a strong catapult into the roof of the net... or at least, that was his clear intention. The execution was better than many of his recent attempts, but yet again, no goal was forthcoming for Grilled's Indian speed king.
This had to be depressing for Parvathaneni, but he did at least reveal enough strength of character, to be back up and running in service of the team in seconds. His non-stop hassling contributed to Songo dropping the ball to Künzler several minutes later, and the Pole for one had his scoring boots on - five-nil.
The Birds would grab the sixth from the restart, as substitute Iman Eshrafi
strutted the outrageous confidence that had persuaded Grilled to spend nearly S$1.5 million on him. Romijn encouraged the new guy on with a neat layoff, but Eshrafi needed little enough of that, as he worked his way through the burdened Songo backline with his fresh legs. Soo Leng Yi tried to cut down his options by coming out, but he hadn't counted on Eshrafi's ability to place the ball.
This last goal seemed to appease the Grilled team, who would then slow the match further down to near walking pace, to few objections from the home side. Ahmed Pećanić
and Gene Filippone
would make late appearances, to no particular purpose.