|Season 49||L||4 - 1||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Goals Not Enough
Grilled Birds were knocked out in the semifinals of the seventh edition of the SG Super Cup by Dodogado, who will now bid for their first ever crown against Scallop Soccer Team in the finals. Young Dan Seng
was inconsolable at the end as he held himself at fault for several of the goals that went in, but Grilled had little to complain about as they cooked up a treat for the fans.
It was a classic attack-versus-defence matchup that pitted the marauding threesome of the Birds against the implacable back four of Dodogado, marshalled by S$5 million man Marcos Luca de Tena. Number Nine Ángel Badillo was the only Dodogado man up front, and even then he would drop off-left, providing an easy outlet for Turkish captain Lokman Esenboğa.
This was a setup that had seen Dodogado concede more than one goal just twice this season, against Fafane Club and DynamoCruz, but this was certainly not about to intimidate the Birds, even as Dodogado's manager vowed to keep tabs on Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
and Tian Yonghang
It was neither of these hotshots who got the go-ahead, however, as it was the overlooked Chow Ying Lee
who plunged straight into the heart of Dogodago's defence in the fourth minute. Swiss centreback Thomi Risser hacked the ball off his feet easily enough, but it then bounced off a teammate and to the following Zhu Changchun
, who was not about to let the opportunity pass. Ştefan-Gabriel Popa stood his ground after a split-second's deliberation, and Zhu hit it past him.
The opponents came back within three minutes, as Grilled's leaky defence again exposed its vulnerabilities. Ling Fuquan
chased Badillo for much too far out of defence, leaving Qassem Madaini
to deal with two men by himself after Dong Rongyong squeezed out an excellent pass. The Grilled skipper eventually had to go at Julio Moscoso, but this left Hu Erjiang free to pull to the side and finish cleanly past Seng.
The Birds continued the only way they knew, which was to throw everything at Dodogado, which left them scrambling to make up ground when Moscoso broke down the left. Seytek Djekshenkulov
had to bring the winger down rather blatantly, copping a straight yellow, but that turned out to be for nothing as Henrique Ávila hit a long free-kick magnificently to the tall Pablo Gabriel Sena, who brought it down with his head before twisting in a half-volley.
The action died down somewhat as Dodogado got the measure of Grilled's rhythm, and things only got heated up again after half-time. Stanca repositioned his forwards in an effort to confuse the enemy backline, but it was Sena who so nearly got another, dropping a free-kick towards the empty net before Dan Seng
threw himself at it and just managed to punch it clear.
Seng's save was soon lost to memory, though, as he made a gaffe that will haunt him for months. Assuming that Madaini was ready, he tossed the ball casually at him, only for Sena to rush in and nick it. The 19 year-old came charging out in a desperate attempt to made amends, but was dodged easily by the experienced Sena, who then rolled the third in.
Seng looked so crushed by that mistake that Stanca contemplated replacing him with Noubaryan, before deciding instead to have Abdul bin Jantan
go on and have a few words. It only got worse for the poor third-choce goalie, though, as Badillo got on the end of another flighted fifty-yard ball, and slipped it around Seng for a goal that he could have prevented.
Three down with just half an hour left, Grilled's chances were dim, but they flickered ever so slightly when Tian Yonghang
flicked the ball audaciously around his marker, chased it down, and laid a screamer that bulged Dodogado's net.
Dodogado might have won a penalty when Ling appeared to push Esenboğa in the 69th minute as he was shielding the ball, but referee Wei Hengzhong instead judged that the Turkish midfielder had gone over far too easily, and booked him for simulation, drawing much heat from his teammates.
Their fears than began to materialize when Mohd Safri kept calm to dribble out of tight coverage, and then surpassed all expectations by drilling it beyond Popa. This made it the first time that Dodogado had conceded three this season, and with the Birds scoring twice in the final eight minutes against Random Curiosity FC to get this far, the Dodogado fans were not counting their chickens yet.
It certainly made for great viewing for the neutrals as Grilled came forward in waves until the final whistle, but aided by the arrival of Toader-Vasile Ciobanu for Badillo, who immediately fell back into midfield, Dodogado held firm and deservedly entered the finals.