Gene Draws Ire
The obligatory season-starting slaughterfest saw the Birds see the just-formed Kopi-O Gao off 9-0, as the fellow Jurong side endured a painful cup debut. Raised by the same owners who were responsible for the sadly now-defunct J3 Almighty, Kopi-O Gao had little chance in truth, but managing an attendance of nearly ten thousand would seem to bode well for their future.
Kopi-O's gaffer Lu Heng Jin was big on local spirit in his pre-match interview, and from how his players were mostly from the same neighbourhood, that was certainly in great abundance. Unfortunately, that was also relatively low down the list of attributes relevant to winning a soccer game, and a near full-strength Grilled were not prepared to play nice.
Mohd Thahir Mohd Zamir was pivotal for the hosts in restricting the Birds early, but the sides were frankly several classes apart. Still, goalkeeper Yip Ping Tian could conceivably have dragged it out a little longer, but his reflexes left much to be desired against Islom Davlatov
's perfunctory 16th minute effort.
A concerted team action preserved Kopi-O's precarious position for some twenty minutes after that, with team captain Mok Ying Wen thinking quickly to crowd Moey Xin Seng
out from properly connecting with the rebound from Chu Xin Lee
's excellent 20th minute volley. Grilled were relentless, however, and Yuta Nakakita
was manhandled in the box in the 39th, leading to an easy 3-0 from the penalty spot for Cyril Künzler
Künzler would repay the favour by feeding Nakakita from a corner for the next goal, and Florus Romijn
would bookend the half after a mazy dribble; all this was, however, intermixed with some quite baffling behaviour from veteran Gene Filippone
, who was already lucky to stay on after lashing out whilst grounded against Hariharan Kancherla. The feud apparently continued despite the excitement over at the other end, and Filippone would be sent off after a juvenile running battle with the Kopi-O forward.
Coach-in-charge Luis Alcántara's face was a sight to behold, as he observed from the sidelines, but the Birds had at least staked out a very comfortable advantage. No changes were deemed necessary, supported by the stat that the hosts had not yet managed a proper shot on Batâr's goal.
It wasn't getting much better for Kopi-O despite being a man up, and Chan Ze Han
would duly score on his cup debut as well as his league one. An elegant build-up on the left saw Moey Xin Seng
unselfishly sidefoot it into the centre, after Yip Ping Tian had committed himself to guarding the near post, and Chan could hardly miss at that range.
Chu Xin Lee
made it up to seven, and Islom Davlatov
would then draw the match's third yellow from Vasil Yankulov, for what seemed like a debatable fall over the boundary. Davlatov would get his own back by thumping a Cyril Künzler
low cross in five minutes later, before Chan did
win a legitimate penalty - which Künzler of course gobbled up. The referee would still have time to book a bemused Florus Romijn
, before the close.