Mustangs Muster Up
Naif, Gamal Double Act
Bahrain's Mustang reared back from two goals down to oust Grilled's second XI 4-2 at home, with Naif Al Sharef and Gamal Al-Temaimai outstanding. The duo were part of eight domestic players that Mustang fielded, with their small foreign contingent notably conspicuous due to their height, if anything.
With the pressure off after their ignominious exit from the Ruby Challenger Cup, the coaching staff no longer had to juggle concerns about obtaining results, and the effect was a noticeably more relaxed side. Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
, one of the Chicken Wings' longest-serving members, would make his pro debut in defence, and the 19 year-old could barely hide his emotions.
On paper, it was a good match with Bahrain's Mustang also stacking their lineup with reserves, though have fared much better in the league compared to the Birds, sticking to second spot with a crushing 6-0 away win against Prince of Ferrarri last Sunday - though they had also been recently eliminated from Challenger Cup competition, by sadako f.c 2.
With clouds obscuring the desert sun, temperatures were also ideal for football, and Moey Xin Seng
tried to put unhappy memories behind him by seeking to take charge early on. Italian midfield pair Jacopo Wetzl and Ubaldo Maesani still won out in that department, but Moey and company at least made it a contest, with their constant harrying.
Mustangs were beginning to tip the balance, when Grilled took a shock lead in the twelfth minute. Mohammad Ramli Saliman
had perhaps not been as impactful on his return as some had anticipated, but the touch that had so stoked his admirers would finally come good now. Despite Maesani inserting himself between Ramli and the goal as the latter brought down an awkward pass, he would only be totally flummoxed as the former Singapore youth international nutmegged him without warning, before lashing it past Manuel Lamprecht with his other foot.
It was the kind of goal that even the opposition fans had to acknowledge, all the more in a match of no consequence. Maesani took it with good grace, and continued bossing the area uninterrupted. Mustangs then had a number of decent chances to equalise, before Rinor Isufi
doubled the lead instead, shooting hard from the head of the penalty area.
Grilled were looking good for a nice half-time lead, which was arguably well-earned if not reflective of the state of the game. Forward Naif Al Sharef had other ideas, however, and he finally recovered his deadly form with a snap header in the 43rd minute, that Romanian goalkeeper Valentin Batâr
scrambled to parry. This left his goal wide open for the approaching Gamal Al-Temaimai to take advantage, for an easy 1-2 reducer.
With this proof that they could score against Grilled, Mustangs didn't take much longer to tie it up, with Naif Al Sharef doing the trick in time added on. Wetzl drilled his free-kick into the defensive wall, but it then broke nicely for the lurking Naif, who clipped it over Batâr as he dove for the ball.
All that running certainly took its toll on the Grilled players, who found it impossible to maintain that intensity in the second half. This left Mustangs free to pursue their preferred expansive attacking plan, and Batâr would be sorely tested barely two minutes into the restart, with Murshid Bin Hendi's poke on for Abdul-Hakim Al-kuwari smashed right into his face.
was instructed to warm up, but the dazed Batâr would eventually be passed fit to carry on. He was understandably a little more circumspect in his rushing out for the rest of the game, and to be fair, it would have made little difference against Gamal's rapid link-up play with Mahdi Jalili in the 51st minute.
Naif Al Sharef would make it 4-2 afterwards, as Mahdi Jalili continued imposing himself on a tired-looking Clark Won
, whose tracking of the winger was beginning to falter. Rashid bin Ahmad
tried to hold the fort alone, but Naif broke behind him at the right time to render his effort moot.
Seeing as Grilled's attack had wound down, Luis Alcántara swopped Rinor Isufi
out for Leong Wan Kang
to try and have a go at it, and this brought a cracking strike from Clark Won
, that nearly skipped into the bottom corner. This would turn out to be the Birds' final bit of resistance, however, and Mustangs would thereafter run the clock down without too much trouble.