As officials from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund and Malaysian Super League (MSL) moneybags Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) greeted one another in the dugout before last night's friendly match at the Larkin Stadium, a bet was made in jest.
"The losers of this match play in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next year," joked a JDT official to a Dortmund executive.
For the first 22 minutes of the game, it appeared that Roberto Gomez's men, rested from last weekend's MSL action, looked up for the challenge posed by the eight-time German champions. The home team were quick in their movement, sharp on the ball and even camped in the Dortmund half for a brief spell.
Then, in the 23rd minute, reality hit - in the form of a free-kick by German playmaker Ilkay Guendogan.
The 24-year-old made it look as easy as a training-ground goal, curling his 25-metre effort past the wall and into the bottom corner, leaving JDT custodian Farizal Marlias rooted to the spot.
It was all the German giants, who thrashed Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale 6-0 on Monday, needed to gain their composure and footing in the game.
It also derailed the JDT outfit slightly, as the Malaysian side dropped their heads and allowed the floodgates to spring wide open.
In the end, the difference in class was clear as Dortmund romped to a 6-1 victory, with six different players getting on the scoresheet.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed two sitters before he finished from close range in the 28th minute, and skilful Slovenia winger Kevin Kampl pounced on a Farizal error to tap into an empty net five minutes later.
The Johor faithful, numbering almost 15,000, weren't used to cheering for the other team - even if Dortmund were the 2013 Champions League finalists - and saved their loudest cheer in the 40th minute when one of their own bulged the Dortmund net.
In arguably the best move of the match, JDT's Amri Yahya and Safee Sali combined splendidly on the left flank to carve an opening for Gary Robbat on the edge of the penalty box.
Robbat, 23, had spent a month training with Dortmund's reserve team earlier this year while under suspension by the Football Association of Malaysia for a contract dispute with three clubs.
He showed the crowd just what he picked up at the Hohenbuschei training ground by hitting a sweet, first-time volley into the corner.
The German side, who in Singapore on Wednesday vowed to take their pre-season matches in Asia seriously, threw on a completely different side in the second half - with Shinji Kagawa and German World Cup winner Marco Reus leading the line.
There was little to shout about in the second half except in the 74th minute, when Dortmund's two Japanese imports - Kagawa and 19-year-old Mitsuro Maruoka - played a neat one-two for Kagawa to finish coolly.
Youngster Jeremy Dudziak and Reus rounded off the scoring in the 82nd and 90th minutes respectively.
This article was first published on July 10, 2015.
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