Drawn Against Gladiators
Seeing as it has been twenty-one long seasons since Grilled Birds last participated in the Hattrick Masters, this generation of supporters could not help but await the latest draw with something more than bated breath; Grilled's three entries to the premier international club competition had seen them participate in six matches, with their furthest journey being to the third round back in Season 29, where they were defeated by Denmark's El Torros Gigante, after Quah Han Kok gave them the lead.
It therefore came as something of a relief that the Birds were drawn against Moldovan Divizia Naţională champions GLADIATORS_FC, despite them having won the national title twice in the last three seasons. Spanish player-coach Ismaèl Canyellas has had to preside over the unenviable task of dismantling a winning squad, with no less than thirteen regulars axed since the final weeks of last season. The list began with former Ghanaian national goalkeeper Akwasi Anokye, who went to Brazil's Los Angeles SH for S$20.5 million, through the Belgian pair of Mathieu Vanschooren and Cederic Bruyneel, capped a total of 61 times for their nation, and ends with more celebrated internationals in El Salvadorean Gilberto Carrasquero and Colombian Edgar Perdomo.
Realistically, this was coming since most of these players were the wrong side of 35 years, but it remains that the GLADIATORS_FC team is currently in something of a shambles. A 0-5 opening-day loss to ADONAI. didn't bode well at all, and further defeats to Tricky_team and Arion M have seen the defending champions stuck firmly in the basement.
admitted that it would be near-unthinkable for Grilled not to get past GLADIATORS_FC, given the advantage they had been handed. "It's basically Canyellas by himself as about the only holdover from their title-winning side. Then they have Florin Pănoiu who's a top goalie, and playmaker Danyal Kubat... and that's basically it. I'm not sure there can be any excuses if we don't take this one!"