Two-time Liechtenstein national champions Grafschaft City received a warm reception when they arrived at The Cooking Pot for the week's friendly, and although they would be downed 6-0, the game would end on a cordial note. Minor injuries to 18 year-old playmaker Joao Aparicio and veteran centreback Sascha Wedershoven couldn't help but sour the mood a little, though.
While Grafschaft City have had a glittering history, with two Fürstliche Liga titles and two national cups, those glory days are now some distance behind them, with it now over twenty seasons since their last national-level silverware. They were nonetheless runners-up in the Fürstliche Liga just five seasons back, but basically went for a complete rebuild after that peak, and dropped to the fourth division. With Nicaraguan legend Felipe Carrillo at the helm, they shouldn't stay down too long.
Carrillo brought what was essentially an U-20 youth selection - apart from Wedershoven and custodian Timo Büchel - to Singapore, and against this, the Birds fielded a weakened yet still overpowering side; a midfield consisting entirely of regulars had to be too much for the visitors' trainees to handle, brimming with potential as they were, and so it turned out to be.
's opener in the seventh minute, as he pounced on a moment of miscontrol by Alexandru Petruţ, was well in the making, but Grafschaft impressed to an extent by threatening Eren Serpin
's goal a while later. Tamer Çolak stretched and put in a header that Jérémy Tarin
evidently thought was impossible, leaving Nathan Sturn a one-on-one opportunity with the Birds reserve goalie. Sturn wasn't able to get Serpin to commit early with his stepover, however, and Serpin would smother the eventual shot.
That bit of excitement over, almost all the drama shifted to Grafschaft's half, as Grilled seized control of midfield. Up-and-coming vice-skipper Rodrigo Caballero was tireless, but he alone wasn't going to turn the tide, and Grilled upped the score to 3-0 by the 41st minute, with goals from Bernie Egan
and Prokop Mottl
. In between, Kalki Parvathaneni
's indifferent fortune continued as he was denied a clear look thanks to a defender's inadvertent turn, while Mudaliar rocked the goalframe in the 35th minute.
The finish from Mottl would bring an end to Aparicio's day too, after the Argentine pulled his back trying to contest the ball. Aparicio had been solidly effective for Grafschaft since his transfer from AUDRU on turning professional; that noted, his replacement Ferdi Zimmermann took over competently, to the extent that it was applicable directly facing Egan down.
The second half would see Pompeo Bellamoli
- who had narrowly missed getting his name on the scoresheet, after Kalki's improvised assist attempt - and Eren Serpin
off, to be replaced by Leonard Nguyen
and Krystian Rykowski
. Grilled's man of the day would indisputably be Bernie Egan
, all said, as he made it four for the Birds, and two for himself, from a fine floated free-kick by Tarin, just three minutes into the new half.
There were instances where certain Birds players behaved more aggressively than perhaps warranted by the occasion, as when Moey Xin Seng
nearly trampled Ayberk Eroğlu in his haste to take a pop, in the 56th minute. Eroğlu was okay then, but not Wedershoven several minutes on, after he received a boot to the hand mid-way through chesting a lob down. Kalki Parvathaneni
, the culprit, would be booked, but that was it for Wedershoven, who looked like he had a finger dislocated.
Wedershoven passed the armband on to Caballero as he was taken off for Ruben Caduff, who couldn't stop Egan either as the Irishman ran through for his hat-trick, 65 minutes in. Say what you want about Caballero, the lad had been an absolute dynamo despite being overmatched, and it was hard to dislike him too much even after he took Mudaliar down from behind; it helped that he accepted his yellow card gracefully.
The Birds completed their scoring as Moey Xin Seng
glanced Kalki's cross in the 78th minute straight to the far bottom corner of Büchel's goal, but Grafschaft were not returning home without a memento, not after the ball struck José Luiz Velho
's arm in his own penalty area in the 82nd minute. Substitute Caduff spread it to the left, as Rykowski dove the other way. Kalki then had another chance to score in injury time, only to drill it onto the top of the crossbar.