Lule Let In
Grilled Birds came through their trip to Uganda with a solid 6-1 result, in their practice game against III.16 club FC Zug 94 Mbarara. A long-running spinoff of the Swiss outfit of the same name, Mbarara's head coach Zlatko Lambreski - a former U-20 North Macedonian international - had them take to the field in a textbook 3-5-2, which however would be mostly swallowed whole by Grilled's offensive firepower.
Their choice of formation was hardly random, from how the Birds' forwards would be immediately cleaved to by multiple opponents on their advances. Unfortunately, this left Grilled with far too much freedom slightly further out in Mbarara's half, and the hosts didn't have any idea what to do, when Yuta Nakakita
advanced all the way from defence in th ninth minute. Bale Kasule wouldn't abandon his designated man, and Yuta obliged by nicking Chan Ze Han
's dinky pass into the net.
Mbarara would hold fast to their gameplan, which would soon involve their own strikers dropping further and further back. Actually, they weren't doing as badly as the final score might have suggested, as their swarming tactics dealt with a fair number of attempted hold-up plays. Unfortunately for them, there was no stopping Chan's incredible overhead hook in the 19th minute, which enthralled even the near three thousand home fans.
There would be a short respite as Hala Twongyeirwe - who had just debuted last week - got an opportunity to run in behind, but not for long. Grilled resumed normal service, and a fall by the ever-busy Chan set Bhavya Panigrahi
up, for a nerveless penalty delivery after goalkeeper Endesha Lule had committed. Chan might have found the target later in the 39th, but for a dramatic saving header behind, by centreback John Kawambwa.
The drift of the match wouldn't change after the interval, and Radovan Jaška
would prove quite useful in front of goal once more, converting calmly in the 62nd minute. Then, a magical pass by Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
would sadly yield only a corner, after Prokop Mottl
failed to control it properly; no worries there, as Jaška flung himself at Panigrahi's flat cross, and redirected it sufficiently for Islom Davlatov
to blast it home. Davlatov might have been just a few metres out, but he certainly wasn't sparing any power behind that!
With the match long decided, Mohd Jafni would exit for 40 year-old veteran Hoàng Trung Quá
, which as it happened would be Mbarara's cue to rally. Hoàng certainly wouldn't be allowed to settle in as the home side threw everything they had into a drive down the left from the restart, and fullback Tom Lule would have the crowd dancing with his neat placed finish, for 1-5.
There could have been more to celebrate for the home team, as they went on to win their first corner, only for John Kawambwa to clip Asante Lubega Mbidde's pullback onto the outside of the near post. The scoring would end with Chirag Thevar
's follow-up, after Endesha Lule had done well to get to José Luiz Velho
's scorching effort with his fingertips.