|Season 71||L||3 - 5||Cup|
|Season 57||L||2 - 4||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 52||W||6 - 0||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 48||L||4 - 3||League|
|Season 48||W||4 - 3||League|
Ruddy Gets Real
There could be no mistaking the gulf between the teams on the day, especially in the second half, as Arrogancae steamrolled the Birds with an almost machine-like industry. The match had been slightly more evenly-contested before that, but the hosts hadn't managed three shutout victories in the league at Avengers Apocalypse for nothing, and they navigated their way around some overwrought Grilled attacking with composure if not ease.
While they had just been on the wrong end of a 5-0 whipping by Mia San Toa Payoh, and had to leave it to the 102nd minute to oust Division Four leading lights Bukit Gombak from the Ruby Challenger Cup, Arrogancae remained a side with unmatched tactical flexibility - one that had seen them knock Grilled out from that same cup in the semifinals last season. That acknowledged, they were not absolutely invincible either, with the Bunnies' Namdar Zarar
famously putting them out of the Singapore Cup, leading to their clash with the Birds; it was a question of whether all the factors could come together for their opponents.
To be entirely honest, this looked unlikely to apply for Grilled Birds. Shock draw against Bot Team FC last Sunday aside, this had been as terrible a campaign for them as could be imagined, and losses to Agharti 23 FC and FC Barca Singapore since only confirmed that narrative. Arrogancae gaffer Pablo Reznik had taken the lesson against Mia San to heart too, as he completely overhauled their formation from a 3-5-2 centered on width, to a deep 4-5-1 that left Ruddy Lora up - the same as that which had taken Grilled down in their last meeting.
There were the additional little touches that hinted at Reznik's thoroughness, such as Belarus fullback Prohar Kryvec folding in against Neeraj Muthyala
on the left, with Florus Romijn
frozen out once more. It wasn't as if the Birds had a backup plan, but with Chan Ze Han
stationed as a false nine, it was definitely tempting to suppose that they might not need one; Chan certainly had the knack of creating openings that he had zero right to, such as when he wriggled out from under two defenders crowding him, to set Chu Xin Lee
up. This would be Grilled's best opportunity of the day, with Chu's unexpectedly delicate lob catching Porras off guard, and only Anacleto Rissoto charging Vikram Mudaliar
down prevented the latter from opening.
The close escapes continued as the Birds forced the game to stay open, and Frank van der Heiden - fresh off his winner over Bukit Gombak - made waves again with a cannon of a right leg, that threatened to break Massoud Dob
's crossbar in the 13rd. The Birds weren't intimidated just yet, and Felipe Porras would have another nervy moment, when cunning interplay from Grilled's forwards played Yuta Nakakita
in. The centreback was hardly convincing with his finish, sadly, and the goalie only had to stand his ground.
A goal was coming either which way, which was Arrogancae's; one of Gilbert Webb
or Yuta Nakakita
should have been attending to Gholi Charkhchian as the Iranian midfielder made his move, but they didn't, and Lev Vodov was more than pleased to supply the assist. To make it worse, which is a common refrain for Grilled nowadays, Kalki Parvathaneni
would then have to go off, after taking a jarring blow between his legs. His biggest contribution had come not long before, nearly slipping through on the left, but for a magnificently-timed tackle from the equally-quick Prohar Kryvec.
eased into Kalki's role competently if not extravagantly, and Grilled tried to shake things up for the better, by taking Yuta off for Bhavya Panigrahi
, after the interval. It didn't work, but probably not due to the newcomer, as Arrogancae began to work their left flank in earnest.
This was, after all, a clear vulnerability of the Grilled setup, if only due to Cyril Künzler
having to venture up, with the Birds behind. It was then left to Moey Xin Seng
and Gilbert Webb
to contain the Arrogancae players as best as they could, which was to say, not very. It took just five minutes for Andrea Storani to spot the Birds defence being slow to pick up on Ruddy Lora's run in behind, and an opportune flick had the Bolivian forward nick their second goal.
Grilled were buried as Tanio Bagazgoitia picked up on a wayward Webb attempt to pass himself out of trouble, and it was only going to get worse. Even Chan Ze Han
's seemingly-indefatigable optimism had all but given out at this slip, and it took the more-mature heads of Moey and Bilal to prevent him from exploding. Footballing-wise, there was nothing to be done, and Hovaness Noubaryan
resignedly signalled for his men to go defensive.
Arrogancae sensed that they could build up their goal difference here, and Ruddy Lora would flip a header home in the 70th, as they exploited the left wing again through Frank van der Heiden. Nicola Abis would then complete the scoring, and van der Heiden narrowly miss a sixth with a cleaving left-footer, bent in as he streaked parallel to goal. Vikram Mudaliar
, who had barely a sniff this second half, was clearly headed straight for the showers, as he went off for José Luiz Velho
in the last minute.