Grilled Birds saw off Maldives III.6 side Black Mamba Club off on their own ground, though the Haifa Blazers offshoots did mount far stiffer resistance in the second half, arguably winning it, after greatly disappointing in the first. Six different scorers found the net for the Birds, with the last of them - Bilal Mohammad Harun
- sadly possibly out for the remainder of the season with a twisted right ankle.
The Mambas, still locked in a battle for promotion with Sixpack Paradise, would hold their regulars back, with Italian 29 year-old Tommaso Tagani and homegrown up-and-comer Moosa Shafeeu probably their biggest names to make the starting lineup. This constituted a well-balanced attack, at least on paper, but it would hardly feature in Grilled's steamrolling for the first half an hour.
The Birds' atrocious weekend collapse was obviously very much on their mind, what with the fervour with which they sought to make up for it. Heng Dong Chu
, overlooked on Sunday, would act to remind the coaching staff of his valuable presence, as he absolutely tore into the poor Vachir Juchi, only recently a youth trainee in Mongolia, on the left. Neeraj Muthyala
, captain for the day, called for it - and Heng obliged with a punt to his waist level, which Muthyala lumped home without a second look.
Next up was Salah Kamel
's highly-anticipated first goal for his new club, as the midfielder made only his second start; it was delicate too, with Romanian goalkeeper Cristi Bonţe having stiffened himself for a drilled effort. Two minutes later, Bilal might have added another, only for centreback Alec Holt to have stationed himself at the post in preparation.
Heng was hardly about to restrain himself with his status as a starter understood to be on the line, and he read Gilbert Webb
's intentions remarkably well in the 22nd minute, and got a step on Angelo Tizzano as the through pass came. Heng, all but unstoppable at this point, was then illegally boxed out off the ball several minutes on, whilst in the six-yard box. A penalty it was, and Bhavya Panigrahi
kept his cool, to send Bonţe the wrong direction.
Half-time saw a change from either side, with Kohei Okuya
on for Jérémy Tarin
, for the cruising Birds, and Mohemed Ibrahim in for Moosa Shafeeu for the hosts. Grilled seemed to be resuming the one-sided lesson of the first period, as they made a bid for a fifth goal through Salah Kamel
on the right flank, but the Mamba defenders would crowd him just in time.
It would instead be substitute Mohemed Ibrahim who would draw first blood, as the Mambas began to display a swashbuckling side to them, that had been mostly missing before. Vachir Juchi had apparently gotten a few hints during the interval, and he would watch for - and grab - the opportunity, when an overconfident Heng Dong Chu
tried to do it all by himself. Juchi would kickstart a flowing sequence on the counter, which ended with Ibrahim's deserved reducer, despite Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
breathing down his neck.
Grilled would restore their four-goal lead thanks to some creative thinking by José Luiz Velho
eight minute later, as he left his marker stunned for a critical second, with his slick dragback. The match would then have to be paused for Matteo Reineke to receive treatment after a sudden hamstring issue; after Ibrahim Ahmed replaced him, Juchi would continue building on an excellent half, by burning past Kohei Okuya
to make it 2-5.
Bilal's time would then come, as his extraordinary energy levels gradually wore down the opposition defence. Having been relatively tame at right forward, he would suddenly transform into a beast, and came within a Bonţe fingertip save of a thumping diving header goal. Five minutes later in the 81st, his reward would finally arrive, as he threw himself up and over, for a scissors kick strike that impressed even the home faithful.
The landing wasn't the best, however, and Bilal would last just three more minutes, before he got cut down by Ahmed Naeem's blindside tackle. Leonard Nguyen
would make a somewhat underwhelming replacement for the remainder of the friendly, which saw Ibrahim Ahmed find a third for the Mambas, as injury time approached.