Safri Gets Ready
Icelandic Division Four team FC Reykjavík took the lead, but were down four by the end, as Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
sounded his intent for the weekend with one in either half. Tian Yonghang
continued cranking up too as he scored for the third game in a row, but Chow Ying Lee
's participation may be in doubt after a lacklustre shift at right wing.
Reykjavík arrived with a diverse side counting seven nationalities among the starters, and while there were no true standouts, they proved willing and able to grind in a defensive 4-5-1. Surprisingly, the Birds adopted a wait-and-see mindset too, and it was more than a little strange to watch Mohd Safri and Tian slowly stroking balls square and backwards.
This mutual standoff ended up going better for the visitors, who struck gold with an absolute flier from teenage winger Maríus Maríusson from nearly twenty-five metres out on the left wing. Dan Seng
could hardly be blamed either for this or the boredom that followed, with Luis Alcántara seemingly happy enough for his team to keep the ball.
Grilled's attacking ambitions finally surfaced after seasoned Reykjavík skipper Antonios Katsiouyiannis was clattered heavily by Zhu Changchun
in the 33rd minute, and the 38 year-old Greek had to sit the rest of the match out. 17 year-old Sylvestre Rine was nowhere as cunning, and Pompeo Bellamoli
, who had been put off by excellent positioning, was suddenly getting in behind with ease.
The Italian could not help but score given all the areas he got himself into, and did so in the 39th minute through a fair corner delivered by Hilal Bakhtiar
and helped on by Tian. A second followed immediately, with Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
doing what he does best, converting good through passes into goals.
would not reappear for the second half as he was replaced by fellow next-generation defender Liang Liyong
, with the two having evidently developed a similar understanding of the defensive midfield role. Liang's preference to pass it on quickly to the next available fellow turned out to be more suited to this game than Ling's more deliberate style, and led to a higher tempo that Reykjavík were uncomfortable with.
Some of Grilled's youngsters couldn't quite keep the pace either - for example, Leong Wan Kang
should really have done better when he was set loose one-on-one against Davíð Kristinsson, but hesitated and allowed the goalkeeper to get too close. Dennis Kong
fared even worse, as he barely got into the game at any point, though he did show that he cared by trying to press - badly - from the front, finally getting an overdue booking in the 63rd minute.
Overall, however, they still coped better than the Icelandic visitors, some of whom were clearly wilting under the tropical sun. Jaakko Haikio followed Kong into the referee's book after he attempted to buy some time by standing over a free-kick, as did Maríusson later on. The game was settled by then, Mohd Safri polishing off a counterattack down the right by regular partner Chow for 4-1, which was by some distance the latter's biggest contribution of the day.
Mohd Safri then missed out on a hat-trick after his screamer went high in the 84th minute, and new signing Rashid bin Ahmad
made a hotly-awaited cameo with two minutes remaining, coming in for Colby Awyong
. He didn't manage to touch the ball, however, as the Birds moved it around in the opposition third till the final whistle.