9B Was Not To Be
Joker 9B's threat turned out to be insubstantial, as they were comprehensively outplayed at their Crap-mael Open Field. The close to fifty thousand home faithful had to be livid at what happened out there, but they could only watch - or not - as the slaughter unfolded.
This was all the more as they had shown fair potential in drawing Real Balmoral, while one could hardly fault them for dropping to Jerry Lim's Mia San. Ong Wee Teck would lead a very respectable team out that included the over S$30 million-rated midfield of Hanning Hinrichsen, Rafael Solé and Mykhaylo Gunchak, and if they weren't going to win it, many would have expected it to at least be close. It wasn't.
There was very little coordination on the hosts' end, which became evident after a short while, and the Birds gladly hid their vulnerabilities under the clock of quick, sharp attacks. Even when they didn't work out, Joker 9B didn't seem particularly interesting in punishment. Gilbert Webb
would fire the first salvo in the 18th minute after Cyril Künzler
's deception for a free-kick, but both efforts found the defensive wall.
It would be Kalki Parvathaneni
who broke the deadlock in the 23rd with a nondescript run through the middle, which didn't reflect too well on the home defence. Hinrichsen then constructed what was probably their high point of the day, beating Neeraj Muthyala
with a sick little crossover trick, but Massoud Dob
proved somewhat harder to bedazzle.
Muthyala, who hasn't exactly had the best of months, would then re-establish his value to the team by being inches away with his header from a corner, but there was nothing to worry about with Kalki in his element. A Kalki flying kick to score in the 33rd was followed by a caution for the slightly-unbalanced Muthyala, to which the antidote was of course the Kalki hat-trick, coming off Minhat Mohd Hisyamuddin's forgetting of one of the cardinal rules of defending - boot it out when you're unsure.
That would be Kalki's first treble since the beginning of last season, as the commentators reminded, but one got the sense that not too many in the stadium were welcoming. Left winger Peh Min Ping demonstrated more passion than good sense for once, as he got himself booked for challenging Künzler in an unwinnable situation.
If the hosts had hoped for a miraculous turnaround for the second half, such dreams were dashed within three minutes, and Muthyala finally came good with his stiff strike at former Kazakh U-20 goalie Balabi Zheksenuly. This one was more of a goalkeeper mistake than anything, but Neeraj was more than happy to take what he could get.
There would barely be any pretense at a resistance after that, as even Ong's formidable powers of inspiration went unheeded. Grilled were practically walking it through the middle at times, such as when Bernie Egan
did in the 61st minute before tapping it on for Bilal Mohammad Harun
. Chan Ze Han
was next on the scoresheet, his cannon leg in the 67th minute marking him down as having struck in all three league games thus far.
's charmed life ran into a small setback in the 72nd, when he was officially cautioned by referee Hugo Zopf for getting handsy with Solé; for all of Egan's persuasiveness, he didn't talk his way out of that one. The match continued with Cyril Künzler
making it 7-0 with another ranged effort, before Chu Xin Lee
enjoyed a fairly pleasant ten minutes having subbed in for Hoàng.