Lau Bought Boot
was diplomatic in the aftermath. "We might have gone a bit overboard." he deadpanned. "Not like I can tell the team to stop trying. If it's any consolation to Winti Tigers, it's a one-off game, so losing 1-0 or 13-0 means exactly the same thing."
It was doubtful whether Noubaryan's kind words applied in fact to the fans, but what was certain was that the Birds were in the quarterfinals of the Ruby Challenger Cup, where they face Arcturules for a probable semis setup against Arrogancae. Former Challenger Cup winners Ropelearner FC and littlehorse will headline the remaining quarterfinal fixtures, against Soon Soon and The Sing Tigers respectively.
The Farmer Bunnies failed to achieve a second big scalp, as defending S-League champions Bot Team FC were too much for them. The Bots weren't on a roll either, having suffered consecutive defeats in the Hattrick Masters and league, but they had reserved their A-game for the Cup.
Bunnies had started well, and a couple of top Vivian Grubenmann
saves transformed into a delightful counter in the 14th minute, turned in expertly by Mushtag Al-Nameeri
. Disaster struck in the 19th minute, sadly, with Nicholas Phang equalizing. Lau Chang Wan
refused to accept that Phang hadn't been offside, and erupted with a sliding tackle that sent Alessandro Stefano Argentesi crashing into the advertising hoardings, an act that saw him immediately dismissed.
Gavri Kima would put Bot Team FC in front in the 28th with a world-class banger, and the Buns found themselves in no position to claw their way back, having been reduced to ten men. Ibrahim Zahran Al-Maashany
sent some pulses racing with a sizzling ten-minute cameo at the end, but didn't manage to make a real difference.
Lau was reportedly distraught, and head coach Dalibor Kostadinović
refused to blame him completely. "That was a bad decision, but I didn't think it was a straight red. Bot Team FC were always going to be a toss-up at best, and the rest of the team did well. Not only that, they were without Phang Lai Chuan. But we are still in another cup, so let's do our best."
As Kostadinović mentioned, the Buns will meet third division club Between a Walk and a Hard Pace in the quarterfinals of the Emerald Challenger Cup, seeded fourth behind Mia San Toa Payoh, league rivals JUtd and Claseek. "Three wins, and we will have our first national silverware." Brendan Leung
said. "Why not?"