The Birds advanced to the fifth round of the Singapore Cup by dismissing current III.5 leaders FC Sattarian Island in today's derby, before an attendance of nearly 72,000 at Tarpots Rec.. The Sattarians might have brought down a host of renowned names including Shining Lights, newbies are newbies and Neo Toxicant in the last month, but their limits would be discovered against Grilled's champions.
Swiss head coach Turi Meinecke ran the 3-4-3 that had taken Sattarian to much success thus far, and one had to admit that they were well-suited to it; 26 year-old French deep-lying forward Alex Berthon was undoubtedly the lynchpin holding it all together, but this is not to discount young strikers Antonio Riccò and William Valbuena, the latter with four caps for the El Salvador under-20s. The remainder of their team was probably best represented by Bulgarian captain and midfield general Petar Kazandzhiev, with goalkeeper Jean-Claude Sasel the only glaring potential improvement.
Alas, that was also the most critical position against Grilled, and if Sattarian's recent opponents had little power to test Sasel, it would be a whole different story for the Birds. It would take but two minutes for Chu Xin Lee
to break the offside trap as Teo Chuan Yong
fed a delightful ball in with the outside of his boot. Sasel just about managed to block Chu's subtle toepoke, but Chan Ze Han
's frightening precognition came into play here, and he would react well before anyone else, to stick the deflection back where it belonged.
This set the tone for the rest of the game, and the 35 year-old Chu would carry on rising to the challenge. Never exactly considered of core importance to Grilled's trophy-winning squads, the free-spirited forward would reassure the fans that he still had it in him to contribute. His erratic movements from the left often had Kalle Rosgren and Sebastian-Daniel Bubu hesitate over who was to take him on, and before they knew it, Grilled were 3-0 up by the 26th minute, on a Chu brace.
Meinecke did not seem to have an answer as his team belatedly bunched up at the back, and any lingering hopes of an unlikely turnaround would be dashed five minutes later, as Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
lashed a brilliant strike past Sasel, from all of twenty yards. Fullback Adolfo Sedano would save his goalkeeper from further embarassment with a goalline headed clearance from Chan's lob shortly after, but there was certainly no coming back from this.
The Sattarian supporters would wait in vain for Jānis Salmiņš
to even be called into action, as Berthon and company continued getting nary a bite, through the entire second half. Bakhtiar was assured enough to even take Bhavya Panigrahi
off for José Luiz Velho
in defence, which had Gilbert Webb
step up to attempt a free-kick, after near-misses from Heng and Velho. The Scottish defender made full use of Sasel's indecision, as he dropped it over the wall for 5-0.