|Season 68||W||1 - 5||Cup|
|Season 52||W||0 - 4||Tournament (Playoffs)|
Eight Times The Cham
Panigrahi Steps Up
No cup final, no problem, as Grilled Birds returned to league action with their seventh win on the trot, against third-placed Real ChamWin F.C. It would be a downright massacre too, with defender Bhavya Panigrahi
coming out with what might be his representative performance in a green shirt thus far. Unfortunately, he won't be participating in the reverse fixture after receiving his third yellow card of the season, but one has to suppose that he's done enough for now.
Real ChamWin F.C were not exactly on a roll either, after getting eliminated by St. Xavier's FC from the Singapore Sapphire Challenger Cup, which also cost them Spanish forward Víctor Grimau through suspension. As such, homegrown star Halim Saud got recalled into the starting lineup. If ChamWin were expecting relief at The Cooking Pot, however, they would be sorely disappointed.
Their XI had a couple of holdovers from the side that lost 1-5 to Grilled in the Singapore Cup six years ago - winger Kwek Yun Guang and goalkeeper Eduard Chochol, the latter whom would concede to two Birds players from that meeting, before the day was out. One of them, Cyril Künzler
, unwittingly made the Birds' first attempt, as the opponents' efforts at a full press quickly proved unconvincing. It was a deflected cross off his own teammate, though.
ChamWin were clearly not very used to the man-on-man marking that they were trying to impose, and it wasn't too difficult for Grilled's players to free themselves when required. That said, it did bog the Birds down to an extent until the 28th minute, when Bhavya Panigrahi
bent a right-footer into the top corner of goal. Several minutes later, Neeraj Muthyala
kept a lookout and saw Künzler evading Heng Kang Chu's attentions from the right, and the Polish winger wouldn't waver in the face of a late challenge for 2-0.
Panigrahi's booking for a bodycheck would then ensure that he would miss the next game, but that only redoubled his efforts in this. Chochol would manage to punch a Kalki Parvathaneni
cannonball back almost to the middle of the pitch, but by the time the half was out, Moey Xin Seng
and Bhavya Panigrahi
had increased the lead to four from central attacks.
There were no signs of Grilled slowing after the interval, and Bilal Mohammad Harun
leveraged his reputation as a shooter to bluff his way closer, before rolling it deceptively gently into the far side of the net. The match would be stopped for a couple of minutes for Vikram Mudaliar
to get his left foot looked at, and it wouldn't be long before Bernie Egan
punched through to find a sixth goal.
With little left to lose, Chilean head coach Ataúlfo Cayupi withdrew Fabien Tavares for Nemanja Momčilović, but this didn't get them back into the reckoning. The pressing had long been abandoned by this stage, though ChamWin were scarcely the worse off for it. Mudaliar would flirt with an aggravated injury as he got his shot off halfway into Kwek Yun Guang's tackle; thankfully, he wouldn't be hurt, as Kwek didn't escape the yellow card.
While most would have thought Kalki's 76th minute header would be the final goal, there would be a surprise in stock for injury time. Islom Davlatov
had come on for Bilal as part of a routine walk-off triple substitution, but it turned out that he wasn't here just to watch. While the tabloids have sniped at Islom on his weight issues in past weeks, he definitely hadn't lost any of his predatory sharpness, as he overran Calvin Gößnitz to leave his mark on his first possession.