Jinglong Rocks MCFCSS
Yuta On Leave
It has been three seasons since Grilled Birds encountered MCFCSS FC in the semifinals of their winning Emerald Challenger Cup campaign, and the gap between the sides had only widened, with the 6-1 margin expanding to 8-0 for this latest matchup. MCFCSS FC talisman Tan Wee Shi, who scored then and who had just found the net thrice in Sunday's league game against Sexy Football United - albeit once again his own side - would be out hunting again, but it was evident that they were even more outclassed than before.
Rising 21 year-old defender Carl Chou would be missing from MCFCSS FC's back four, as player-coach Vinay Katam put forth a selection not all that much different from three years past; Italian goalkeeper Vinay Katam and veteran sweeper Dhir Kumar remained the lynchpins of their defence, with responsibility for goals falling squarely on Tan and skipper Zane Trinh. That former forward Chin Aik Tian had not been replaced, causing Katam to have to play himself, wasn't a great sign, though.
Such cup mismatches oft wait for some particularly charged-up fellow to take the reins, and there was absolutely no mistaking who it would be today. Dropped from the defeat at Haha, Wu Jinglong
was pencilled in for his cup debut here, which had his post-season tourney form return in spades. Again entrusted with the captaincy, the former Chinese U-20 star would make Lollato sweat after barely three minutes, as he snapped an attempt out of nowhere that might well have gotten past a lesser goalie.
It became a very rough ride for MCFCSS FC as their formation became increasingly compressed, and only Collin Chu's exceptional workrate in midfield prevented the Birds from going ahead earlier than they did. It took about twenty-one minutes for that, as it happened, and it would be Wu with his trademark cutting-in from the right side from his time at Fringeheads and before, made all the more potent by his comfort with both feet. Opposing leftback Louis Lam could do nothing for that, and Wu's precision on the finish put it nicely beyond Lollato's saving.
The next two goals would arrive in quick succession, as Grilled left no doubt that they would be the ones progressing from this contest. Vikram Mudaliar
ghosted through for 2-0, before the incredible synergy between Wu and Cyril Künzler
paid dividends on the right, with the Pole throwing a spanner into the opposition defence for his new teammate to feast upon. There had been worries that the two would occupy positions too similar to be effective - fears that were completely unfounded.
Alas, it would not all got the Birds' way, and there would be an extremely scary moment in the 33rd minute, when Yuta Nakakita
kneeled over like a broken marionette, after what seemed a routine shoving match with Trinh near the corner flag. To the MCFCSS strikers' credit, he put the ball out immediately on witnessing that, and the extended stoppage - that had the full medical team attempting to revive Yuta for some minutes - attested the seriousness of the situation. Thankfully, Yuta would be stabilized sufficiently after regaining consciousness, and would be wheeled straight into the treatment room on oxygen.
This was possibly not how Radovan Jaška
wanted to be introduced to the game, but the substitute did his duty without complaint, not that there was all that much to account for at the back. Yuta's departure took plenty of the wind out of Grilled's sails, and it would ironically take another man down - this time Cyril Künzler
after a stray elbow to the collarbone - to reawaken the team. Moey Xin Seng
entered on a mission to restart the midfield engine, which he executed with great aplomb.
Four minutes after Moey's arrival, Kalki Parvathaneni
would pick the scoring back up, as he made much of Nicholas Guo's slight unbalancedness to speed past him. Guo had actually done a fine job up till then, but as they say, it only takes one mistake. Wu Jinglong
would then get the hat-trick that the Grilled supporters were chanting for, as he got on the end of Moey's one-touch assist, smooth as silk.
One could hardly fault Heng Dong Chu
for feeling a little left out on the other flank, with the team having recognized that the right side was on a boil, and Heng would at least collect a goal from a corner kick, helpfully knocked down by Radovan Jaška
. Kalki Parvathaneni
would then take full advantage of the wearied MCFCSS backline, to take his cup total to six in three rounds.