This would be the first time Grilled Birds and Ambush F.C. had crossed after near thirty seasons in the local leagues by the latter, whom had been founded by the same management of former Mexican national champions, Rage F.C.; in that time, Ambush F.C. had gotten as high as the second division, and won a Sapphire Challenger Cup in addition. Well, they will have another shot at a secondary cup, after they were knocked out by the Birds today.
Their first two competitive matches of the season had seen them batter their opponents physically, with both Good Luck FC and SeEnOevIL F.C. having two players go off through injury, in their visits to Hab Sukan Singapura. This was something that Hilal Bakhtiar
was well aware of, and with their midfield enforcer Chan Hui Lee back after getting sent off in the former game, there was all the more reason to be wary. Bakhtiar wouldn't hold much back with his lineup, despite that, with the only real concession being Atang Mangoye
making his first official start for the club - at centre-forward, no less.
One couldn't accuse Ambush F.C. of underestimating their foes either, as they went about pressing hard from the get-go, led by captain and national prospect Leo Dinh - a rare hybrid defender-goalkeeper. Leo would play rightback today, pitting him directly against Heng Dong Chu
, with Woo Keng Wai in goal for the hosts. The snapping at heels commenced, and was really quite effective. Indeed, Ambush F.C. would have been pleased at their first-half performance, had Chan Ze Han
not converted Grilled's only clear chance, in the 25th minute when he got through the middle.
At least they had managed to stay mostly clean too, with Lim Dong Guang's late booking for trying to hold up Heng Dong Chu
's throw-in, a rather soft one too. Against this, Bakhtiar would go for fresher legs to maintain the attacking pace, with Teo Chuan Yong
and Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
taking over from Chu and Kamel in midfield. Abd Hadi would be especially inventive, and his interchanges with Kalki Parvathaneni
would immediately cause headaches for the Ambush defenders.
Their main contribution would be creating another great opening for Chan Ze Han
, as it transpired, with Kalki tying Loo Yeng Dong up at just the right instant, when Abd Hadi released a slide-rule pass in the 53rd minute. Chan Ze Han
had read that perfectly, as he swung about in behind, and his final lunge took it low past Woo for 2-0.
Ambush were arguably just about still in it, with their only serious attempt on Salmiņš 's goal being Li Lee Hao's run late in the first half. That would not hold for too much longer as Grilled kept piling on the pressure, and the playing area would be effectively compressed further and further into Ambush's half. It all came to a head - Bilal Mohammad Harun
's, literally - in the 67th minute, when the big midfielder rose majestically for Gilbert Webb
's early cross.
That, hopefully, signalled the return in earnest of the 34 year-old, whose injury-ridden and goalless last season coincided with a very painful period for the club. Webb will be another one hoping to prove his continued value for Grilled, and he took special attention in setting the ball up for a free-kick four minutes later, in an excellent position some three yards outside the penalty area. The Scotsman went for the top left corner, and bent it just too much, by inches.
There was not much left in the contest after the third goal, and the remainder would be played out in a somewhat desultory manner, with Mangoye off for José Luiz Velho
just before the end.