A New Day Dawns
Grilled Birds embarked on Season 77 with a Singapore Cup first round match versus longstanding amateur club INTER - TUAN CAT, who had been included in the draw for the first time in twenty seasons, alongside their promotion to the fourth division. The results was never much in doubt, and three Birds players - Bernie Egan
, Wu Jinglong
and Gilbert Webb
- would kick their campaign off with two goals apiece, as Jānis Salmiņš
collected an effortless clean sheet on his official debut.
INTER's merry band had been described as remarkably balanced for a part-time outfit, with no glaring weaknesses - though clearly plenty of notches down from Grilled's standard. 34 year-old skipper Chan Tong Nie, a welder by trade, had the respect of his team, which had been a big factor in their winning their Division Five league.
Good vibes and cooperation could hardly be enough against a team that had made it to the last two finals, that accounted, and INTER would be placed under siege from the opening whistle. Senior centreback Zabidi Mohamad would be put under as much pressure as he had for years, and their holding our for nine full minutes before Kalki Parvathaneni
's breakthrough frankly didn't reflect at all badly on them.
Mohd Ali Osman's goal would be breached again in the 13th and 14th minute to essentially close the contest off, as the Birds cut through their defence with little more than the fundamentals, albeit at an extremely high level. Captain Moey Xin Seng
, who has admitted that he doesn't have many more years left at his peak, was not about to waste any time with a stylish lob; Salah Kamel
would then go for power on Grilled's next attack, to the same effect.
It would be five-nil by the end of the first half, with Gilbert Webb
following his teammates' examples, striking hard and true in the 21st minute following a strong rush down the middle. The first yellow of the match would be given to Yao Rongjin for holding up play, after which Kalki drove down the left side at pace, to feed Bernie Egan
for a simple tap-in.
More of the same one-way traffic was on the table for the second half, with Wu Jinglong
- who had renewed his contract for a season - upping the score to 6-0, as the Grilled fans understandably urged him to shoot. Salmiņš then had a close escape, as Mohd Fareed bin Fadzim brought the loudest home cheers of the day, with a free-kick that deflected off the wall and onto the goalpost. A miss was as good as a mile, though, and Wu would insert himself from the right wing to find a seventh goal, shaking off Swamiiyyappa Sinha.
The chase for a hat-trick was well and truly on after Egan and Webb added goals in the 82nd and 83rd minutes respectively, only to be dashed as Egan unleashed from just outside the box a couple of minutes later, only to have it wobble over the crossbar; Webb, for his part, would be swapped for Radovan Jaška
in injury time.