Wipeout In The Second
They Be Giants
In perhaps the darkest day for the Grilled clubs in domestic cup competition ever, all three crashed out in the second round, giving stark realization as to the amount of restructuring work that lay before all of them. For the Birds, this matched their 0-6 dumping by jessica FC seventeen seasons ago, though if it were any consolation, they were never quite as out of it against Orchard-based III.8 leaders Yomiuri Giants. The Giants had started their season strongly with a 5-0 thrashing of MCFCSS FC in the first round, and then an 8-0 over Manchester United Eagles in the league, and they would bring all that buoyancy into today's challenge.
New Italian head coach Giampietro Bolcato would alternate between attacking 2-5-3s and 3-4-3s after taking over towards the end of last season, and he would choose the latter at Tokyo Dome today, with Grilled instead falling back on a 3-5-2 with Aw Keng Chuan
anchoring the defence alongside makeweights Bilal and Thach. This was not even that impractical, and it would be the hosts who would be the more troubled early on, with Bolivian defender Ivanilson Epaminondas picking up a yellow card in the 14th minute, for all too deliberate - but understandable - time-wasting.
The tide began to turn against Grilled four minutes after that, however, as they lost influential captain Moey Xin Seng
to a suspected dislocated shoulder, after the 38 year-old went to ground hard following a fair aerial duel versus Holden McIntyre. A younger Moey might very well have shrugged it off, but the medic would advise him to quit, after a brief inspection. Chan Ze Han
would be handed the armband, as Kalki Parvathaneni
made his entrance.
Although the Birds continued to boss the ball mostly, Yomiuri were more than decent when they had the ball going forward, what with the Birds hardly able to rustle up a single natural defender among themselves. Aw would be closest to spotting the threat as teenaged Canadian winger Julien Dumais made a speculative rush with Adam Struhár keeping his head up looking for an outlet, but not even he could get in the way soon enough. Dumais took the pass gracefully in his stride, and hit it cleanly past Dimitris Germanakos
Grilled would have their fight restored after falling behind, and equalized four minutes later, with Kalki getting the barest of touches on a corner, which then fell perfectly to give Hwang Teck Fu
his maiden professional goal for the club. Boosted by the occasion, Grilled would then see Paulino Trindade
have a neat effort parried by Dutch goalie Leen Tober, but in the end it would be Yomiuri who would go into the break ahead, thanks to a clinical chip from young San Marino forward Bruno Mazza.
This saw a substitution for the Birds to begin the second half, with Lim An Keng
coming on for an again-colourless Chia, and Gandhik Chitre
swopping places with Hwang Teck Fu
, to try his luck inside. That had perhaps less impact than the Birds had hoped, and they were fortunate that opposing player-coach Bolcato took himself off, to give Víctor Arias a chance in the middle. That saw a few incisive Grilled attacks down the flanks, and Chan Ze Han
would do the needful off a great Trindade cross in the 56th minute, for 2-2.
The fixture still looked eminently winnable for Grilled as they continued to edge possession, and were moreover feeling like the more dangerous team as the clock ran down, for once. Tian's final gamble would be to put Teo Chuan Yong
on for Chad Thach
, in a push towards building from the back more consistently. However, it would be Bolcato who would win this coaching battle, as Arias came up with what would be the winner in the 78th, as he followed up Mikey Starr's vicious strike to lethal effect.