Slavcho Sounds Siren
Grilled started the SG Super Cup II with a bang, seeing off organizers Be Champions FC by five goals to two. The Division Three club were not short on players to watch, with two national U-20 midfielders for the future in Feng Shifang and Foo 'Frankie' Ah De, while the forwards could get reacquainted with rightback Mohd Sofi bin Nan, until recently with newbies are newbies.
Be Champions FC started in a 3-5-2, and after an inconclusive skirmishing start, they drew first blood with an incisive assault down their left side. Qassem Madaini
was too far ahead, and although Slavcho Tzonkov
, newly restored to the lineup, tried to make it over, French winger Benoît Pouderoux smoothly dealt it to Mikkel Andreasen, who clobbered it off Dexter Stacey
's fingertips into the goal.
That led to some heated discussion in Grilled's defensive ranks, but they got it sorted out, and the rested Zhu Changchun
made full use of his fresh legs to curl one in after pushing the ball to the side of the penalty area. Be Champions FC nearly struck back in an instant through the canny Pouderoux again, but this time Stacey was wise to his ability, and dashed out early enough.
The Birds then stepped it up on the half-hour, and the sudden upping of urgency took the opponents by surprise. Their back ranks were falling back frantically in an effort to cover Grilled's advancing midfielders, only to fall victim to another of Chow Ying Lee
's sneaky runs off the last man.
The goal tilted what had been a finely-balanced match up to this point, and it was mostly Grilled in control for the remainder of the half. They were bringing men in from all positions, and the rest seemed to have done former Bulgarian U-20 defender Slavcho Tzonkov
a world of good too, as he used his pace, normally reserved for tracking back, to get past his man and make it 3-1.
The restart saw Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
up against Mohd Sofi bin Nan in a one-on-one, and while he had kept Grilled's main striker largely quiet, there was little he could do without additional cover, and Mohd Safri maintained his composure to bend it past Spanish goalie Irrintzi Aranaz.
Be Champions FC were intent on not leaving more holes, and Grilled, sensing that most of the work was done, withdrew Alex Fonseca
for Abdul bin Jantan
- not that it wound up better for Be Champions FC, as bin Jantan promptly pulled some strings and sent Tzonkov through. The Bulgarian took his unusual duty in stride, placing his feet well to spread his shot around Aranaz successfully.
There was little hope of recovering from a four-goal deficit at this point, but cult favourite Gan Haoxiang, who has just passed the career hundred-goal milestone for his only club, gave his supporters extra reason to celebrate with a sharp finish from a snappy counter.