Now Moey Than Ever
Grilled's third-most prevalent fixture returned as the Birds met Arrogancae for the first time since their double-winning campaign five seasons past, and 32 seasons after their latest match in Division Two - that Arrogancae won 4-3 with the help of a Meng Yunbin brace. Today would be a whole other ball game, however, as Moey Xin Seng
finally came good against one of Grilled's most-storied rivals.
Currently in the middle of an extended rebuilding phase under former Hong Kong U-20 international and player-coach Kan Ronglin, Arrogancae have finished sixth in II.4 for three of the last four terms, but survived each time. This would come with a purposeful switch in style to a counterattacking one, with their 5-3-2 today including former Saudi U-20 defender Abdulla Obaidan, and Suriname prospect Guno Mao. It has not however brought them much success thus far, with draws against Ang Mohs and Ramseille, followed by a narrow loss to SingaStyle last Sunday.
Nonetheless, Grilled's players were hardly foolish enough to discount Arrogancae's potential simply because of that, and indeed their big Argentine striker Marcelo Iván Azcurra was more than capable of banging them in, with minimal support. Bhavya Panigrahi
would be returned to the starting lineup with a brief to take care of Azcurra, with Salah Kamel
in the middle, and Chu Xin Lee
tasked to tuck in from the right. Heng Dong Chu
would be picked again too, after his fine showing against Blacksail Team previously.
The unrelenting heat saw slightly less than forty thousand show up at Avengers Apocalypse, and although those that did were largely the most vocal of the home faithful, even they could not fail to recognize that their team was getting hammered, after awhile. Kan's trust in himself as the midfield bridge was hardly going to hold up, even with the assistance of on-pitch skipper Tim D'Agostino. Wave after wave of Grilled assaults would crash on the Arrogancae backline, and not ten minutes had passed when Moey Xin Seng
picked the ball up in Chan Ze Han
's wake, and sidefooted it around former Israeli youth international goalkeeper, Basil Nader.
Grilled would compress all their efforts to the inside as the game went on, as they adapted to Arrogancae's relatively-strong fullbacks, which suited Heng and Chu just fine. Douglas Carapaica
, fresh off his double versus ArseVikings, wasn't about to be shy at having a few tries, and he put a scorcher perhaps a yard over, in the 15th minute. The tenor of the game remained, though, and Teo Chuan Yong
would up the score to 2-0 in the 29th as Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
's hashed header fell fortunately for him. Teo would nearly grab another a couple of minutes later as Moey's pass somehow got through, but scuffed that sadly.
That would develop into the hosts' first big chance of the game, as Grilled's efforts to hem them back ended in Colin Symonette being awarded a free-kick, after intelligently shielding the ball. It would be taken quickly down the touchline, resulting in a straight race between Danila Chapkovich and Douglas, with the Belarusian winger seemingly getting ahead... until a little shoulder bump from the Birds defender. Azcurra didn't take that well, and retaliated at first opportunity with an all-too-obvious crunching tackle on the defender, for which he was immediately booked.
Arrogancae would cope much better to the break, and started the second half brightly, even putting together another promising counter after Panigrahi had a great free-kick saved by Nader after 54 minutes. Obaidan kept his wits about him to dribble out of danger and pick the correct pass, and Azcurra would have to be brought down by Teo just outside the box, to which the fans weren't happy at the Grilled man escaping a card. Kan stepped over for Stefan Weckherlin to deliver, but Grilled's defenders did their job in blocking off all comers then.
This state of affairs didn't last for long, as the Birds upped the tempo again, and they were soon 4-0 up after a sudden spurt of chances. That first came from Vikram Mudaliar
, who had positioned himself in preparation for any spill from Nader off Chan's strike from the left, which indeed happened. Panigrahi would get a second bite at the cherry a minute later, and he would put enough pace and bend behind his free-kick this time.
Abd Hadi would then find the bar again as he tried fruitlessly to reprise his season-opening magic, but Salah Kamel
would pick up the slack, as he shuffled a fifth goal home in the 73rd, as Panigrahi mixed it up with a short chip. Seeing their relative productivity from free-kicks, Grilled were generally happy to play for them around Arrogancae's penalty area, with Mudaliar probably thinking too much about it when he had a clear opportunity to drive straight in from the right wing, several minutes later. He wound up overrunning that.
A somewhat-downcast Kan would arrange for a triple substitution twelve minutes from time, sending his youth trainees on, with the result long a foregone conclusion. They actually didn't do too badly, with their eagerness to close down making up for any deficiencies in reading the game. Still, Moey would punish them with a pick-off in the immediate aftermath of the changes, with Bakhtiar making his own subs right before the final whistle.