It Stays Here
Hidde Makes History
Grilled joined Hattrick all the time, Herron and Winning Eleven in that cosy club of multiple Cup winners, as they held off FC RaZer Infernus in the final for the second season running. The star of the show then was Martinsson, but this time the mantle was worn by 24 year-old Dutch wing wizard Hidde van Liere
Arguably the defining moment of the match happened before the ninety minutes of action, when Grilled's expensively-hired temporary band of medical specialists waffled over whether van Liere was ready to go. It didn't look good for the S$13.9 million player, and the team coach actually left without him, with Paullin slated for right wing.
Some harried calls from the stadium later, followed by Luis Alcántara
signing a disclaimer form, saw that most prodigal of talents driven to Fortress Tactics in physio Nick Tam's Honda. Hidde shrugged on his green top as the players lined up for their pre-match photo. As it turned out he could be missed from the first few takes, but certainly not in the big game itself.
Grilled had selected last edition's Cup-winning side down to a man; Siu-Yue and Sid returned to the starting eleven. As for RaZer, there were a few changes. Thomas Tellbrant was at fullback instead of Terje Dahl, Thai midfielder Udom Kitrattana came in instead of Wojciech Wojnar, and local winger Mun-Nee took the right flank, not the mercurial Bruno Domingues.
The biggest difference was up front where the formidable Leinonen-Brinkhorst partnership had been dissolved, in turn replaced by that of 20 year-old Swede Daniel Hellell and loyal veteran Tse Hyun-Shik. It could be debated if they matched up favourably with the Finn and the Belgian, but their true power lay in the brotherhood of Weng Shen and Tsu-Yee in central midfield - and they
had doubtless grown from strength to strength.
Easily billed as a revenge match, Fortress Tactics attracted only 86000-plus faithful due to the horrendous markup on ticket prices, which should concern the governing body. It went quietly for ten minutes, then twenty, and would finally require magic from the flanks to break the stalemate. Domingues provided it once, but this was van Liere's day.
The Grilled Number 16 rounded Canadian defender Peter Patel very naturally, and his quick feet found a way past Kitrattana too. Wang Wee-Hwa would be a tough proposition, but Hidde ended as abruptly as he had started his run, with a brilliant curler that bent in past Jiao-Long, from all of twenty metres. A true testament to his alas unreliable genius.
RaZer were very much in it as they built up from their strong centre, until van Liere made it two. With 38 minutes gone, the goal hero was the beneficiary of some bullet passing between Martinsson and Wai-Kin upfront. Martinsson disguised his breakthrough pass expertly as a signature strike, which left RaZer's defenders standing still as van Liere sped in. A touch to the left, a chip to the right, and the Dutchman was celebrating wildly in the net.
It was not over for him yet. Two more minutes, and an uninspired square pass was cut out by Kek-Tjiang. Wisely the midfielder trusted in his now irrepressible winger, who had given Patel fits for the entire half. By now his confidence level was such that he would have taken on all eleven opponents, and after taking it down with his thigh, van Liere volleyed without hesitation. No-one would have believed it had it been scripted, but fact can be stranger than fiction, and the ball sailed right into the corner of the goalmouth.
After only forty minutes, Hidde van Liere
, the king of dribbles who had never in his life struck a hat-trick, completed his first one in the Singapore Cup final. It was 3-0, and he knew - everyone knew - that he had probably won it for the Birds.
RaZer served up a timely warning immediately after, as Gao Thanh-long responded with his customary fire, and Daniel Hellell put his head well to a floating cross from the national winger. That gave his club some hope, but not too much.Quah Han Kok
soon extinguished the possibility of a comeback when he turned on the afterburners to leave Thomas Tellbrant behind in a straight race to a clearance. Being the last man, Tellbrant dared not overcommit, and it was to his ruin as Han Kok's balance kept him on a beeline to goal. Jiao-Long did well to get something on the shot, but only managed to redirect it into the other side of the goal.
Sid added a fifth in the 62nd minute, after Wai-Kin was grappled in the box. Martinsson would have tied with Chinablack's Luis Semprún for a share of the Cup Golden Boot if he converted it, but he declined. van Liere was likewise in no mood to add to his haul, and thus the cool-as-ice Pole became the only Grilled representative to score in both finals.
RaZer now had half an hour to score four times, understandably an uphill task. They did take over in the latter stages of the match as Grilled concentrated on battening down the hatches, and their colossal sweeper Wang Wee-Hwa was a hair's breadth from reducing as his rocket header was rejected by the crossbar.
van Liere might even have made it four for himself, as Grilled seized on a weak drive and launched a rapid counterattack. Han Kok and van Liere provided the threat down the flanks, and in the end Siu-Yue's grounder came off Tsu-Yee in the six-yard box. van Liere could have ended it with a touch, but he elected to blast it and shockingly missed.
35 year-old Tse Hyun-Shik won applause with his deft ball skills as he made light of Fabian Bona
in the 80th minute, and after carving space out for himself the aging striker surprised Sulaiman with an instant strike with the tips of his toes. Hyun-Shik raced to retrieve the ball from the back of the net, but Grilled's Egyptian goalkeeper not trying to delay him indicated that Grilled were uncatchable long before then.