Chan & Chirag Up
In their first return to Paraguay for nearly forty seasons, the Birds edged fourth division leaders Tte. Fariña de Caacupé by two goals to one. The affiliate side of former Copa Esmeralda winners Guma F.C., Caacupé boasted of current national team goalkeeper Gustavo Camacho, who has collected 28 caps at all levels since starting his pro career here after moving from Pilsen Atletic Club. Nicknamed "La Roca
", or The Rock, for good reason, he almost held out by his lonesome.
Other than Camacho, it was probably fair to describe the remainder of Caacupé's friendly starters as rather low-key, with Italian defender Daniele Pierangeli perhaps the pick of the lot. Assigned to leftback in a 3-5-2, Pierangeli's direct opponent would be Vikram Mudaliar
, who he managed to look less than impressive.
That couldn't be said for the Italian's colleagues, however, with Swiss counterpart Cyril Wagemans having a rather tougher time of it against the very mobile Moey Xin Seng
. Moey made Grilled's opener in the seventeenth minute, when he outjumped Wagemans handily to knock one on for Chan Ze Han
, who had gotten a step on Jonathan Clavreul. Camacho got a hand on the shot when he had no right too, but it had been blasted powerfully enough to go in nevertheless.
The action continued in the home half with José Luiz Velho
the next to have a crack, but Camacho saw that that try was going wide. Velho would then be caught out as Peter Dahlborg again made the most of his propensity to bomb forward without checking, and Spanish forward Lartaun Urianafarrondo applied a fine volley, to send the ball past the rooted Krystian Rykowski
It was quite a soft goal to give away, as Yuki Irie
expressed with a disgusted swing of the arm, and the Birds would thankfully make up for it. Grilled were moving forward pretty fluidly as Caacupé offered scarce resistance, and Dalila Latifi let Chirag Thevar
just waltz inside the box after half an hour. Camacho once more did the right thing, but he was always at a disadvantage there as Thevar found the angle to score. 2-1.
A triple substitution greeted the second half, as Leonard Nguyen
, Pompeo Bellamoli
and Remco van der Ban
came on for Thevar and Grilled's Japanese-Singaporean duo. It was soon followed by a sparkling Chan Ze Han
drive after Bilal's good eye for a through pass, but this time Camacho's quality was too much, as he punched the excellent effort onto the crossbar.
The freshly-on Remco van der Ban
didn't waste time getting mired in new controversy, as he scythed Clavreul down in the ensuing chase. Some tempers flared, but referee Sebastian Svenningsen knew just how to defuse the situation, and the matter was settled with a handshake. Remco didn't escape a deserved booking, of course.
Caacupé didn't have much left in the tank by this stage, unfortunately, as the Birds looked vulnerable. Earlier in the first half, captain Toni Colominas had managed the odd foray behind the Grilled lines, but no more of that was forthcoming as Remco concentrated on his defensive duties.
The remaining clear chances belonged to the visitors, and the best of those had to be Bilal Mohammad Harun
's unexpected move in the 58th; even Camacho was well beaten then, but not his woodwork. Then, eight minutes from the end, Kalki Parvathaneni
attempted a cheeky pot from the edge of the centre circle - the Caacupé goalie saw the funny side of that.