Some Stripes Earned
Grilled Birds would finish the latest Supporter Week Trophy tourney in 5137th place of 24268 teams with a 6-0-4 record, quite a retreat compared to preceding seasons. Moreover, they would be ranked just ninth in the nation after routinely leading the pack previously, with Chokos and St. Xavier's FC - both newly-promoted to the S-League - highest at 439th and 443rd respectively, before a large chasm to Lawrence, KS FC at 2188th.
The third and last day did begin well enough, even with the Birds already long out of the running for the playoffs, as they mastered Portuguese fourth divisioners Severense FC in challenging conditions, 4-0 with Kalki getting it going in the tenth minute. Bhavya Panigrahi
would convert a penalty smartly some two minutes later, with Chu Xin Lee
and Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
closing the match just before half-time.
Freshly-promoted Norwegian III.8 representatives Tutti Stringendo would then apply their superior stamina to Grilled in the second half, as they overturned a 1-2 deficity, to win 5-2 with Polish striker Bogdan Ruszczyk leading the way. Vikram Mudaliar
would at least have the Birds go out on a high note in the final round, as he bagged a hat-trick in a 6-1 over Liechtenstein IV.31 side, Black and white stripes.
While objectively not too bad, this had to be recognized as a steep decline given that the Birds had finished in the top 400 the last two editions, and 45th as recently as four seasons ago. "It can't be helped." long-timer Teo Li Choon shrugged. "And no real point trying to hide it either. It's just another cycle."
Farmer Bunnies split their games, first with a 0-1 defeat to São Tomé e Príncipe III.10 side pa dentro catita, that had Daniel Bernardino Mourão's fifth minute breakthrough prove decisive. The ensuing failure of their many counterattacking attempts to come good was sadly no stranger to the Buns, with Lim Su Liang
however probably warranted in feeling shortchanged, after his 66th minute piledriver rocked the crossbar.
They then won 2-0 against Swiss Division Six club FC Muchumi, with Mushtag Al-Nameeri
cannily pressing young sweeper Marvin Schaffenrath when he was at his most vulnerable right after coming on, and Vishnu Tallapaka
doing the deed from a free-kick about fifteen yards out. Syrian IV.1 runners-up Marhaba FC then held the Birds mutually goalless, with Tham Leng Teck
left to bemoan the best opportunity of the day getting saved by Tawfek Karrat, in the 37th minute.
Former captain Tham would reemphasize the transition to the new set, but stopped short of announcing his retirement, despite hints in that direction these last few weeks. "I will be staying as long as the club wants me." he said. "Perhaps not in a playing capacity for long, granted." The Buns would finish a poor 21796th, on 2-3-5.
Grilled International did rather better, 6834th on 5-2-3, though they had the same final-day result as the Farmer Bunnies. It would be a tough 4-3 victory against Spanish IV.3 side Pirinews to begin with, as Tibor Atzenhain
opened and equalized, before a come-from-behind rescue act by Ragib Banović
and then Hardi bin Besar
. Greek playmaker Fivos Amintikidis pulled the strings for Pirinews, but goalkeeper Víctor Sota had a relatively bad day.
A 1-4 loss to Hornby Islanders of the Canadian IV.63 followed, in an intensely-frustrating exercise that say International's attacks continually stymied by the Islanders' outsized defence. Safari bin Hj Jali
got International's only goal just before half time from a corner, but otherwise it was the Islanders - and Italian Number Ten Billy Rubrichi in particular - picking them off. Zaini bin Hj Kaling
would eventually get so riled up, that he collected two yellows in the final ten minutes, to be sent off at the start of injury time.
would miss an open shot at another consolation then, but he would go on to open the scoring against Slovakian Division Three side FC Veselí nad Lužnicí 1964, with it ending in a four-all draw after late strikes from Izydor Rżysko and then Osertz Indurain
. Ragib Banović
excelled, but was soon put under such heavy watch, that it was all he could do to turn provider for his teammates.