Grilled Birds might have defeated Dutch II.3 leaders Paniek Zaaiende Zigeuners in this World Battle tournament round, but it was the Zigeuners' German star Fynn Uhl who most caught the eye. Despite being deployed as a central midfielder, Uhl would excel in his shooting like no other, and it would have been a lot less intriguing of a contest had he not galvanized his team when he did.
With FC Heerenterp and Bossche NAC level on points in the league, it is perhaps slightly too early to say if Zigeuners will break into the Eredivisie for the first time in their history, which might have become slightly galling given their secondary club in Suriname gathering no fewer than ten major trophies in the Hoofdklasse already. Jay Jones, former Oceanian U-20 forward and recent Golden Boot winner would start, as did former Kazakh youth international Erkuat Ensenov, and Singapore's very own Ong Nie Su - who has unfortunately hit some remarkably bad form these several weeks.
had kept faithful to the ethos that has brought the club the Singapore Cup already, which was not to shy away from hard challenges, come what may. Chan Ze Han
's reputation again preceded him, as he drew the exclusive attentions of Iranian defender Mohsen Elham, though this was slightly inconvenient for Zigeuners' defensive shape, given than Chan was playing deeper here. Kalle ter Berg
would be entrusted with Grilled's pivot position, with Manuel Vadalà
getting his final tune-up, before the Fringeheads come visiting.
Zigeuners head coach Marian Mrozowski was definitely taking this one seriously, as his torrent of instructions carried on after the starting whistle, which his players appeared well used to. Quite a bit of it would be directed at Uruguay goalie Rodrigo Nicolás Butragueño, who took it all in stride, made easier by the outfielders gaining control out there. Wim de Bruin would strike first in a very conventional way, pulling Gilbert Webb
wide with a ballsy first touch, before whipping a fierce grounder back in off the far post.
That wasn't the start that Serpin had in mind for Vadalà, but at least Grilled would soon twist the game back in their favour. It didn't take long either, with Chu Xin Lee
forcing Butragueño to pick the ball out of his net a mere two minutes after De Bruin's opener, as he slipped through on Ter Berg's knock-on. Several more minutes later, Neeraj Muthyala
would run at an engaged Giorgio Sonaglia, and perhaps got a bit lucky with his sliced lob for 2-1.
Fynn Uhl's initial noteworthy exploits were actually far from beneficial to his team, as he struck an ill-advised pass across the defence in the 26th minute, that was picked off but somehow not scored upon by Chu Xin Lee
. Kalki Parvathaneni
and Bernie Egan
would then fail to convert great openings, the latter due to the deceptive acceleration of Sonaglia, and it would be Uhl who would tie it all up before half-time with a swaggering dribble, all whilst holding Mateja Jeftić
Grilled had probably gotten the slight edge in the first forty-five, which seemed to be recognized by Mrozowski, as he reformed his team into a 2-5-3 ten minutes after the break, with Sonaglia sacrificed for Norwegian international Christoffer Rasch, in a clear attempt to get at the Birds where they were weakest. It has to be said that Rasch has been in a bit of a rut too, but Serpin wasn't about to be trumped here, and he would make a double sub of his own: Muthyala and Mudaliar off, Bilal Mohammad Harun
and Moey Xin Seng
These changes really gave the game a facelift, and Bilal would take all of three minutes to make the ultimate impact. A busy Salah Kamel
would bend a cross in from the right side, just enough to tempt Butragueño to come for it, yet just ever so marginally out of the goalkeeper's reach. Still, the height on it meant that few players would have been able to take advantage - but it so happened that Bilal managed to, with a delightfully-weighted nod that feathered it barely over Butragueño's stretching fingertips.
The Birds had certainly gotten the best of the mutual tactical shakeup, and they were engaging their opponents entirely on their terms now. Chu, who undeniably had the beating of Ong Nie Su down his flank today, would take it past Butragueño in the 67th minute, only to not be able to make one last decisive touch. No problem, as he then assisted Chan Ze Han
for a calm fourth goal, before going it himself with a magnificent flying volley in the 76th minute - definitely one for the neutral fans!
Zigeuners refused to concede just yet, not in front of their own fans, and Ong's inherent talent would come forth in the 79th minute, as he made both Chu and Kalle ter Berg
look slightly foolish, by showing them both enough of the ball to forestall a challenge, before zooming between them. Fynn Uhl thundered the header home. To this, Serpin would take Mateja Jeftić
off for Bhavya Panigrahi
, and Bernie Egan
replied almost immediately from the restart, as he held off Mohsen Elham to hook Grilled's sixth goal past Butragueño.
Even that was not enough to dampen Uhl's ardour for scoring, and the German midfielder would wow with his hat-trick done in the next minute, with Manuel Vadalà
looking haunted at letting another saveable effort slip past his grasp. Egan followed up with another deep run of his own, before Aytam Darjezi slotted a final penalty past Vadalà - who did at least guess the correct direction on this.