Kununurra Take Three
Australian III.2 pacesetters Kununurra would find the visiting Birds side a little too hot to handle, but but with their biggest names such as Ronnie Wallace and Simon Vujičić not involved - after besting Mofs Utd II five-nil on the weekend - and Belgian star wide man Stanislas Braeckman still recovering from a bad hand injury, this was not as bad as it might seem. Kununurra boss Jayson Tambling did throw Campbell Waikaiua, Jarno Nukki, Paul Li and Tobias Nairn on to spread some real quality around, although they were constrained to defending in a 4-5-1 press.
That, granted, was hardly necessarily a poor choice against a ramshackle Birds second XI, but centre-forward Teo Chuan Yong
would throw a wrench in the works, right from the start. Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
had drawn Nukki into making some contact about five metres out from the right edge of the box, and there seemed faint threat that Teo could get it past Hal Cooper, from that position. Well, Teo smashed it low and hard as the defensive wall jumped on cue, and it would be the Birds in front after barely two minutes.
The just over five thousand to make it had barely settled in yet, but judging from the crowd's lukewarm reaction, there were just here to pass a nice afternoon. Tambling merely watched as his team put the all-out press in play, and they were really not too bad at it. Teo would suffer the worst of a collision sandwiched between two defenders, as he tried to blow past them in the 18th minute, and would have to go off with a badly-jarred right knee. Moey Xin Seng
was handed the armband as Teo was ferried by, and it was back to the game.
Paul Li in particular was having a excellent time crushing the Birds' build-ups, but the hosts' inability to string passes of their own together, would prove their downfall. There were just too many promising moves cobbled together by Grilled to negate, and Ferzan would be especially fruitful against a near-anonymous Torryn Green on the right. He drew the men before reversing the pass in the 34th minute, and although Prokop Mottl
overran it, Chia Kwang Tse
was there with the calm sidefooted finish to the far bottom corner.
More was to come as the clock hit forty minutes, with the Birds putting more and more focus on the right side; Paulino Trindade
's advance down the left would catch Kununurra unprepared, then, and while he was stopped near the corner flag, the ball would be recycled quickly to the other flank. Ferzan would be marked out on this play, but that left plenty of space for the rest, and Gandhik Chitre
sprayed it into the net for 3-0.
That was some smart improvisation from the nineteen year-old, for which he got a head-rub from his captain. The second half had Lim An Keng
enter for Chia, but a lot less goalmouth action as Kununurra went deeper and deeper. That made for quite difficult watching, and it was telling that pockets of the home fans expressed their dissatisfaction, as the game wore on - and wore heavily.
It got so bad that the only real excitement in this half came when recently-arrived midfielder Kristopher Fairley caught Hwang Teck Fu
very late in the 69th minute, which nearly caused a flare-up. Danish referee Wilhelm Jørgensen forestalled it by immediately ordering the teams apart and taking Fairley aside for a long talking-to, which ended with him booked. In fact, Jørgensen might well have ended the friendly right then, to no loss for football.