Favorit Taken Down
Grilled Birds would adjust their game significantly for Bulgarian II.3 opponents Favorit in their Golden Trophy Round of 32 clash, a bold move that paid off with victory under unfavourable circumstances. Like the Birds, Favorit have been known primarily as a cup team, with two national cups and three Challenger trophies to their name; unlike the Birds, they are also known for a distance-shooting approach, founded on an ultra-defensive bedrock; skipper by former Suriname national player Demilio Adelaar, and with ex-Swiss U-20 international Ulrich Duvennest providing much of the ammunition, they were basically the sort of setup that Grilled hated to face.
This would be manifest by the third minute, as Favorit got off the blocks the more quickly, and Massoud Dob
would only be able to ward Duvennest's introductory salvo behind for a corner then. Dob appeared to have Duvennest's delivery under his control, but the press of players had him fumble the catch, and former Phantasm Hotspurs youth trainee Taufiq Arrahman Bunyameen would shove it in. Gilbert Webb
wasted no time in appealling to the referee, but the goal would stand.
It was one of the worst starts that Grilled could have experienced, what with Favorit now free to play a waiting game to their advantage... in theory at least. In reality, the Birds were attacking very nicely indeed, with the Bulgarians offering little other than low-percentage attempts from way out. One of those would be turned into a seldom-seen counter led by Heng Dong Chu
down the left, which would be met by Kalki Parvathaneni
's head for the equalizer.
Demilio Adelaar did receive a superb cross from Diego Zambrano in the 20th minute, only to flick it wide, and the Favorit skipper went on to get booked for a bad if necessary tackle on Bernie Egan
. Grilled would instead be the ones to go ahead, as Heng found himself well-matched against Homero Salas. The Venezuelan fullback found it difficult to stop the supply from Heng, despite his considerable pace, and Bhavya Panigrahi
got on the end of a particularly-precise delivery after 33 minutes.
For once, the Birds would be operating on the counter against a 5-5-0 formation, and it was working pretty well for them at that. Without a recognized forward, Favorit's advances weren't posing too much trouble especially with Dob very much on his toes, and it would be Grilled who were coming rather closer to extending their lead. Chan Ze Han
would clip the top of Darren Ainger's crossbar with a delightful right-footer, five minutes into the second half.
Favorit would get better too, to their credit, and they would begin pressing the Birds strongly - particularly on the inside. Kalle ter Berg
would be booked for clattering Duvennest in the 63rd minute, and the Swiss sharpshooter would carry on assuming the bulk of the shooting burden for his club, with a more than respectable effort requiring Massoud Dob
to keep his eye on the ball's movement, in the 74th minute.
Their breakthrough would come soon afterwards, with some very thoughtful setup for South African midfielder Bridgemohan Chiume to level it, and for some minutes it seemed as if Favorit might win it in regular time even. Their refound exuberance would ironically turn out to be their downfall, however, as it left an opening for Wu Jinglong
to claim the winner, two minutes from time.