Hitting The High Notes
The Usual Suspects
Grilled stretched their winning streak to eight matches before the start of the S-League season proper, flattening downtown semi-professionals SSC Sing by nine goals. Unlike some of the Birds' recent first round Cup opponents, SSC Sing weren't retirees out to pasture, but they remained largely a motley crew of Sunday footballers - and they would be the first to admit it.
One of SSC Sing's older chaps, 52 year-old right winger Bill Duffey, would be their main threat, not that this was saying much; 49 year-old central midfielder Azhar Abdul Majid, a security guard by trade, also knew a trick or two himself. Nothing that would save his team, unfortunately, when Vikram Mudaliar
ran at him from the start, and was unceremoniously felled. Cyril Künzler
took one look at the state of the wall lined up before him, and cracked it right through.
This unauspicious beginning didn't accurately reflect SSC Sing's grit, and they managed to keep Grilled out for half an hour after that, even if they were lulling in second gear. A close familiarity with one's fellow defenders went a long way, as Wong Pin Jia and company fended off far superior physical specimens through collective action; clearly, they hadn't made it through pre-qualifying on luck alone.
It was inherently an unfair contest, of course, and there was little that the underdogs could reasonably do, to prevent Kalki Parvathaneni
from bursting into range and lobbing Li Jian Loong in the 32nd minute. That opened the floodgates, with Florus Romijn
, Künzler again, and Moey Xin Seng
all finding the net in the next five minutes or so.
Mission accomplished at 5-0, Grilled were prepared to be magnanimous when Akhbar Mohd Alim went to ground clutching his knee, and Romijn would give up on a clear run down the left to attend to the fullback. The boisterous home fans didn't seem quite sure how to react at first, before settling on cheering the sporting act.
couldn't resist turning on the heat in the second half, and went it himself in the 54th, circling Wong Pin Jia with some exceedingly slick lateral movement. The next big incident of the game was Neeraj Muthyala
's crunching one-footer on goalkeeper Li Jian Loong and subsequent profession of innocence, which left the crowd free to boo. He nearly got away with it too, but Referee Sérgio Antônio Lítio wavered after Hafiz Asyari Azim had to come in for Li, and carded the Grilled playmaker.
took the opportunity to send Bhavya Panigrahi
on for Yuta Nakakita
too, not that there was much defending to be done. Gilbert Webb
certainly wasn't engaged in any, as he was found dribbling some fifty yards from his usual post in the 69th minute, before catching Hafiz unawares with a stiff drive for 7-0.
probably sensed that his number was coming up, as he searched for his hat-trick, and found it with a well-directed header. Noubaryan would sub Chan Ze Han
off for Prokop Mottl
instead, though, and the Czech forward duly slotted home on his first touch; as for Kalki, he would stay on until the last minute of regulation time, before making way for a new-look Pompeo Bellamoli