National forward Vikram Mudaliar
, who hadn't fared particularly well today, acknowledged that the team was on a downer. "It's never easy to dig oneself out of a funk, I know a bit of that myself, from my schooldays. All we can do is to try and lift ourselves, a day at a time."
Farmer Bunnies would at least have a respite from their indifferent league fortunes, as they reached a second Challenger Cup final in as many seasons. -= Manchester United =-, who had themselves lifted three of those trophies, had the upper hand for the first half-hour or thereabouts, only for the Buns to slowly but surely turn it around.
United certainly had the more explosive start, and despite Aswad Mohd Jafni
dutifully shadowing Jan Mrhálek, they had many willing runners to spare. Tham Leng Teck
was shackled after an early 14th minute yellow card for a required tackle on Telman Xəlilov, and after an oh-so-close Mushtag Al-Nameeri
miss, Sim Chin Chi gave United the lead from a routine corner kick execution.
Bunnies would go into half time level from a superb Brendan Leung
counter finish, and a 58th minute exchange then saw Nguyễn Hành Kiện's free-kick barely stopped by Vivian Grubenmann
, and the ensuing break again marginally wide from Al-Nameeri. Considering that the Yemeni striker had literally run himself into the ground, Dalibor Kostadinović
took him off in the 70th minute for Nurlan Ablaev
, and the former United favourite duly hexed them with a tremendous long-range stinger that left Maiko Lürßen no chance.
The United supporters were incensed at their old flame proceeding to rile them up with an extravagant celebration, and his former teammates reciprocated with harsh play that eventually led to a yellow for a retaliating Ablaev. Tham and other Bunnies seniors managed to counsel Ablaev, and Namdar Zarar
would make sure in the last minute of regular time, with another old-fashioned piledriver.
The man of the day retained his perspective well, and began his post-match interview by praising Mushtag. "He softened them up real nice for me. And yes, some of the United fans might not be happy at my celebrations, but they should be reasonable. I do remember my time with Manchester fondly, but I am a Bun now."
Arrogancae meanwhile dispatched Marina Sailors 5-1, as they kept alive their search for their first Challenger Cup. "It's a wonder why they haven't gotten one yet." Kostadinović mused. "Probably due to them consistently having deep runs into the main cup. Not that we're supposed to help them here, of course!"
And away in the Barbados, Grilled International lost to II.1 club Hacke FC Barbados by the exact same scoreline as the Birds had, with the scrappy Soo Kiong Yau
grabbing their consolation goal immediately from the second-half restart. The home team didn't have it all their way either, as they would lose promising 19 year-old wingman Brian Sealey to a heavy concussion, that could see him sit out the next fortnight.