With Pârvu's blowing of the final whistle, Grilled Birds would reach their first national cup finals in nine seasons, their latest since a 3-1 win over FC Barca Singapore for their second Ruby Challenger Cup. This exhilaration was made only the sweeter by being just eight minutes from elimination, that is, before toast of the moment Bilal Mohammad Harun
flipped the script.
Team captain Moey Xin Seng
was first man out of the dugout, but he was never going to make it to Bilal before his teammates on the pitch had hoisted him on their shoulders. Hovaness Noubaryan
would be the only voice of calm, as he so pointedly reminded his squad: "We haven't won anything yet."
The finals will be against Ang Mo Kio third division underdogs Puh erh, who defeated Yew Tea very comprehensively 3-0 in the other semifinals. Kristian Stapel and Cory Trang got the first two after extended spells of short passing in the central areas, before Antonio Bastianutti made sure with an emphatically-struck penalty.
"Puh erh weren't lucky or anything, they're good - very good." Noubaryan continued. "They've denied S-League club Oneteamtoplay and former cupwinners United Legends FC in their run-in, this can't be done through fortune alone. But, I'll say it, this is our cup."
Bunnies' own cup dreams were shattered by littlehorse in the Ruby Challenger Cup, with the S-League opponents uncontested in midfield. Emiler Valverde's slick 19th minute opener shifted all the pressure to the Buns, and although they would equalize 70 minutes in as Jon Benson
's bullet header was blocked only to Kwek Yun Jie
, Finnish forward Toni Pirinen would settle the argument in the very next minute.
littlehorse will now taken ~Pollen~ on to complete their Challenger Cup collection, as Morgan Hu
bemoaned his team's exit. Hu's forced departure on the hour due to a knock to his knee hadn't helped, with Sarkis Krikoryan
a more than willing, but ultimately inferior substitute. "We gave up far too much ground." Hu said. "Can't afford that, not against this team."
again courted criticism for sticking with Nurlan Ablaev
as his lone forward, leaving Ibrahim Zahran Al-Maashany
, Enzo Paolo Panzarino
and Daniel Nguyen
as unused options on the bench. For once, Sikong seemed to doubt himself, if only a little. "We may have to evolve our tactics further." he admitted, seeming distracted during the post-match presser.
Over in Bolivia, Grilled International thrashed Division Four hosts Jucumaris C.F. 7-1 in their friendly. Ragib Banović
would return from his league no-show with the fifth International goal, though he remained somewhat off the pace. The debuting Alan Capitán got Jucumaris' consolation in injury time, which had been extended to four minutes due to Noel Czinege's twisted ankle.