Grilled Birds 5 - 4 btfly
Flight Of Fancy
Safri Has His Say
The near-6400 who turned up to witness current J. League contenders btfly got their money's worth, and more, as an afternoon of brilliant sunshine heralded a flowing match that would not have disgraced a bigger stage. btfly were far more mobile than their 5-5-0 formation would suggest, and although a half-time scoreline of 5-1 suggested that the Birds had it all tied up, the visitors upped the excitement towards the end by clawing it back to 5-4.
Young Koji Sato made a speedy recovery after limping off in btfly's local friendly against KashimaNC last week, and he took his place in midfield beside grizzled Spanish captain Castejón Foquet, with leftback Isidoro Bernardo their other starter to watch. That said, good things have been said about 19 year-old Masaharu Ichikawa on the other flank, and he was not afraid to take Shiya Shaahee
on for pace.
That eagerness backfired badly in the 15th minute, however, as Ichikawa lunged in a bit too predictably, and was dodged by the Maldives winger, who has been enjoying his football lately. Then came a combination that many Grilled fans had been looking forward to, Shaahee crossing flatly for Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
to spring into and finish.
Shaahee did almost the same thing three minutes later, which had a chastised Ichikawa restraining himself to keeping between Shaahee and the goal for the rest of the game. It was not all his fault, that said, as Tian Yonghang
was imperious even in midfield, and did a lot to support the two-man strikeforce of Djan Bacelar
and Leong Wan Kang
It was hard to see how btfly were going to strike back without a recognized forward, but Kazuyoshi Kimura supplied the answer in the 38th minute. Number Twenty Kouya Hiraki beat Colby Awyong
fair and square on the right, drew Rashid bin Ahmad
to him, and then returned the ball wide for Kimura to lob Noubaryan wonderfully.
Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
replied with a second thumping header to complete his hat-trick in the 39th minute, however, and Tian Yonghang
got the goal he deserved when Bacelar fooled the btfly defence with a short free-kick. Dutch head coach Lars Westerterp didn't take that well, and pulled underperforming skipper Ðorde Grbić for defensive midfielder Yoshihiko Eguchi in an effort to better grasp the game, only for Shaahee to rub it in with a fancy dribble beyond the last man.
was the new face for Grilled as they came on for what must have thought to be a formality, and so it seemed as the Birds went down a couple of gears and were content to soak up pressure. Kenji Takeshita got another one back after Bernardo blew past Hilal Bakhtiar
in the 67th minute on a focused counterattack, but it never looked like becoming the rule as Rashid displayed his organizational skills convincingly.
It all broke loose when Bacelar was taken off for Gleb Dorogan
in the 80th. Poor Dorogan has seen too many leads slip upon his arrival, and although they can't all be attributed to him, it must still be worrying for the vice-captain. He had no sooner slipped on the armband when Westerterp chose the moment to introduce both himself and Polish target man Janusz Radziemski, who immediately put Rashid on full alert with his fresh legs.
It was Grilled who actually had the first bite, as Westerterp himself lost the ball in the box, but Leong Wan Kang
hit it over. Radziemski then scored with his first touch, slipping by everybody to meet a very early cross from Ichikawa with an outstretched right leg.
Liang then took one for the team with a professional foul to slow another dangerous btfly counter, before Leong agonized over a seemingly perfectly-struck free-kick that again kept rising, with Okada rooted. To make it worse, the visitors scored again from the restart, as the sheer number of players throwing their weight forward overwhelmed the complacent Grilled backline. Kouya Hiraki wound up credited, smashing in from close up.
Grilled were just happy to drag the time out, as Sandy Fu
jogged on rather more slowly than he was capable of for Awyong, and it proved to not be Leong's day at all as the young striker flirted with dismissal, going in on Santiago Pizarro from behind out of sheer frustration.