A Needed Boost
On a terrible run, Grilled got some respite with a 5-0 tournament win over Chile's Colo Colo JFC. While this was achieved against a side starting with just ten men, thanks to an immigration mix-up, it was very much a case of any port in a storm for the Birds.
Grilled had, of course, reached the finals of the first edition of The Global Trophy tournament, where they had narrowly lost a nail-biter against Security First. This definitely didn't count for much, what with them on a steady downwards trajectory. They would receive an unexpected advantage, though, when it was revealed that Miguel Hernánde Cadima - nominally a reserve goalie, but who has also played in midfield - had been detained at the airport. As Colo had already been travelling with a bare-bones squad due to other commitments, there was no recourse but to kick off a man down.
It was perhaps not an edge that the Birds should have been pleased to get, but from how Colo more than held their own in the beginning, they might well have needed it. With big Israeli striker Maayan Osher their central focus, they came close to kicking the door in a few times, and Philippe Thirion's near-certain free-kick goal in the 24th was only fractionally warded off by Clark Won
, standing on the outside of the defensive wall.
Then again, the Birds weren't seriously threatened after their initial wobbles, and could have done better but for Low Aik Jia
's obvious disinterest on the left. Still, he did get a corner kick off a defender going into the 38th minute, from which a resounding opener was nodded in by Yuta Nakakita
That seemed to cause something to click in the Grilled team, and they became decidedly more dangerous out of the blue. Mohammad Ramli Saliman
found an exuberance that had been missing from his game for quite some time, as he cheekily sold Thirion a very convincing dummy pass, before slickly running through. Mexican goalie Iván Viedes made to shut him down, but couldn't restrict his angles quickly enough.
Time added on saw a third goal come, as a free-flowing attack through the middle was clobbered into the crossbar and in, by Ang Leong Kum
. Grilled really looked like they were enjoying themselves, and after an unwelcome break, Gennady Dvorak
had Viedes on the backfoot with a rather audacious lob attempt from all of forty yards, though it would sail well over harmlessly eventually.
There remained little double about how this would turn out, despite that, with Colo at best alternating between containment and battling on the retreat, under the direction of Cristian Păuceanu; certainly, this was only to be expected given their disadvantage in numbers, which took the sheen off Grilled's performance.
Low would gradually raise his level through the second half, which was met with a positive reaction from his teammates, and this resulted in a two-man raid in the 76th, together with Rinor Isufi
. It seemed as if the latter would slide it past Viedes, but the Albanian instead unselfishly elected to make completely sure, by scooping it across for a grateful Moey Xin Seng
to tap in.
Ang would then score Grilled's fifth, and his second, several minutes later, after Colo tried too hard for a consolation, packing the attacking half following Saliman's foul and yellow. Hariharan Prabhu
returned it up the right speedily, and Ang got lucky with a late deflection.
Moey Xin Seng
's high spirits at handing the armband - and finally, a winning position - over to his mentor Tian Yonghang
was clear for all to see, as Tian entered together with Gene Filippone
in a double substitution. Tian wouldn't press overly hard to rack up the scoreline, however, as he sat back in a relatively withdrawn role.