The Birds took on Farmer Bunnies' new leaguemates Team Boba in the third round of the Singapore Cup, and eased their way to a 5-0 shutout that was never quite in doubt. The red-clad Ang Mo Kio risers were not short in support after promotions in successive seasons from Division Five, and helped attract nearly 52,000 to Benfleet Branch 2's Tarpots Rec. today. A 0-2 loss to Kungfu 11 over the weekend didn't bode well for their chances, that said, and they wouldn't have the personnel to successfully pull a counterattacking game off against Grilled.
While Team Boba's top talents were probably Finnish winger Jani Ranki and Austrian skipper Eduard Baumbach, their biggest draw has probably been the homegrown Benjamin Lim and fellow youngster Brett Lim, the latter who has been on the outskirts of the national youth squad. Taking the gimmick further, Portuguese and Italian imports Abílio Oliveira Azevedo and Riccardo Petretta have gamely accepted the monikers of "Bertoldo Lim
" and "Bastian Lim
" after arriving at the club too, with Bertoldo starting alongside his fellow Lims at the head of a 4-3-3 today.
They could well have made some waves after a top-line save by Imam Rahmi off Chu Xin Lee
's rising effort in the third minute brought about an opportunistic hoof down the middle from Lucas Brühlmeier, and Brett Lim demonstrated his ample potential by peeling off from Gilbert Webb
at the right moment. That got him a good second or two to line up his shot against Jānis Salmiņš
, but the angle wasn't the best, and Salmiņš had it covered all the way.
The tenth minute brought Grilled's opener via a rather vanilla incursion from the right wing by Heng Dong Chu
, who had been given another opportunity to make the inverted winger role work. Having drawn most of Team Boba's defence over, it was left to Kalki Parvathaneni
to finish off a relatively easy chance. A poor final touch would plague the Birds' players, particularly Chu and Chan, which had Grilled merely 2-0 up at half-time. The second goal came from Sølve Lunde
off an indirect free-kick, courtesy of dangerous play from Toh Yau Kim, that saw the fullback also booked into the bargain.
Toh would be off together with Bertoldo for Luděk Cenek and Bastian Lim, as Team Boba's Cameroonian head coach Jimmy Lamine possibly saw a slim hope of turning it around in the second half. Such ideas would be mostly dashed four minutes in, however, as Grilled worked the ball neatly around the opposition box. Chu Xin Lee
has had two bad misses already, but got lucky the third time around, as he curled a banger around Rahmi's reach and into the far end of the goal.
Chu might easily have had a hat-trick had he been less wasteful with his shots, and Rahmi would get the better of him in the 64th minute from a similar position. The Birds were four up by then after a Bhavya Panigrahi
penalty, at least, and Team Boba were largely angling for a consolation by then. Benjamin Lim came closest after getting on the end of a pacy counter led by Robert Marinescu in the 67th minute, but the wide-left angle was again far too narrow to seriously threaten Salmiņš.
Panigrahi would be belatedly carded for bringing Marinescu down after the latter had released the last ball, which seemingly had Bakhtiar consider replacing him, before taking Heng off for Teo Chuan Yong
instead. Radovan Jaška
would be allowed a few minutes on the pitch for an unusually-subdued Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
towards the end, but those few minutes were all he needed, to bag his second goal for the Birds right before injury time.