Tielen Catch Up
The new edition of the World Battle tournament saw Chan Ze Han
dazzle Belgian II.2 visitors KFC Tielen initially, only for Tielen to work themselves - if slowly and tortuously - back into the game. It would be honours even eventually, which could be taken as slightly flattering the Birds, from what had passed.
It was not as if the weather was conductive towards producing a classic anyhow, with the seasonal rainfall not letting up, leading to a very heavy pitch despite the groundskeepers' best efforts. Tielen were not exactly having a great week either, having been dumped out of the Belgian Cup through Shridhar Jobanputra's goal for sixth division Lonesjiel FC in a huge upset, this after a 2-2 draw versus P!nk_Panthers in the league. Squad-wise, however, they were as strong as they have ever been, and brought their core midfield trio of Briek De Jaeger, Bob Vandermeulen and Cédrick Achtergaele, all smack in their prime. And, behind it all, they had Estonian goalkeeper Rando Pentjärv, a monster S$35.7 million signing from Muhu Kotkad.
Price tags, as it turn out, wouldn't matter much to Chan Ze Han
, who has not had to involve himself in such business. The Birds loyalist found himself with a favourable matchup against François Degheldere on the right side of attack, with the defender evidently more comfortable against the direct sort of forward. Not that Chan wasn't capable of that, of course, but he would draw upon his large collection of feints and tricks here instead. One little shift saw him lose Degheldere in the seventh minute as Vikram Mudaliar
threatened to run through, and Mudaliar's vision had him assist Chan for the easy finish. 1-0.
Tielen were actually edging it in midfield, but their preference towards testing Jānis Salmiņš
from distance, would not give the Grilled custodian too much worry as yet. Toon De Deyn remained woefully undersupplied as the Birds stuck with short passes and a lot of bumping, and Teo Chuan Yong
would whip a pretty special lob up in the 21st minute, after an improvised first touch to take it away from De Jaeger. As again, Chan was onto it, and a savage volley left Pentjärv with no chance.
The two-goal lead dulled the Birds' willingness to put themselves forward, and the rain didn't help either. Tielen retained rather more of their fight, and De Deyn would finally get the look at goal that he had been waiting for, in the 33rd minute. However, he chopped it well wide. Aleksi Tolonen came no closer with his whimsical half-volley off the ensuing goal kick, and De Deyn would be booked a few minutes later for interfering with a Grilled free-kick that he didn't agree with.
Half-time came and went with no let up in the storm, and Tielen would seriously turn the screws, as the second half wore on. Their 4-5-1 had pressed steadily up the pitch, with their backline sitting some ten yards from the halfway line after some twenty minutes, as Tielen established a stronghold in midfield. Degheldere's reducer was coming, and after a stout-hearted dribble saw him thwarted at the last moment by Jānis Salmiņš
, the midfielder would curl an incredible long-range missile into the top corner, following a lay-off by Louis Devaere.
Otherwise, the football on offer wasn't quite of vintage quality, and Grilled seemed likely to stick it out with movement getting more and more constrained; Heng Dong Chu
and Sølve Lunde
would have to shield their eyes as they came on for Kalki and Douglas for the last ten minutes, due to how strong the winds were getting. This worked to the visitors' benefit soon, as De Jaeger's effort from maybe eight yards outside the box, would be brought clear of Salmiņš via a stray gust in the 84th minute for the equalizer.
At this, Radovan Jaška
would enter for Shekar Kannan
, but there was little that either side could do to build on their goals - or so it seemed. The sun would suddenly peek out from behind the clouds as the weather suddenly cleared up entering injury time, and both De Deyn and Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
would wind up crashing potential matchwinners off the respective crossbars, before all was done and dusted.