Ready Or Not Here We Go
The result in Kuala Lumpur was, as anticipated, entirely overshadowed by news back from Singapore - Farmer Bunnies had lost their S-League qualifier 1-3 to Puh erh, which in turn meant that Grilled Birds qualified for promotion, indirectly in the Buns' stead.
Noubaryan would coyly avoid the subject for as long as he could, in the post-game press conference. "Ter Berg's everything we expected of him; we've had two Dutchmen before him, Maikel Rotteveel and Hidde van Liere, and I don't have to tell you how deeply they have embedded themselves in club lore. Kalle may have come a bit later in his career than them, but there's plenty of time to make some huge achievements."
"Oh, and have you heard - Morris has moved again, this time to Spain's Burnage for S$7.1 million. Another pretty penny for us!"
This went on for about fifteen minutes, until a grinning Noubaryan could no longer hold it off. "Yes, we have gotten the news, we're back in the top flight. It makes Kalle's arrival all the more opportune, of course. I think we've learnt some hard lessons from two seasons back, I daresay we have a stronger squad, and are better-prepared."
In stark contrast, the mood was almost funereal back in Clementi, as the implications of their relegation sunk in at Farmer Bunnies, after two average seasons in the S-League. They had topped the league for a brief, magical period at the beginning of their first stint, but never quite figured out a formula to earn points consistently, after they got found out.
To rub it in, they executed their strategy close to perfectly against Puh erh, with Brendan Leung
doing a number on Toni Guserl for essentially all of the match, but for a momentary mix-up in the 14th minute that allowed Guserl's opener. William Wainaina and Khaled Islam put it up to 3-0 with a touch of good fortune, and the Buns' late rally brought but a lonely consolation from the reliable Mushtag Al-Nameeri
Bunnies head coach Dalibor Kostadinović
was appropriately sombre, as he all but declared the squad's dismantling, after congratulating the opponents. "I suppose it should be no secret, but it still pains me to say it." Kostadinović choked. "With our relegation, there's no good reason to put it off for much longer, and it only gets more painful the more it's dragged out. I'd like to thank all in the team for their efforts, these last two seasons at the top in particular. Sadly, winning the big one wasn't to be."