Friday, 29 August 2003 12:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Over the past month or so South Melbourne has been involved in a somewhat rigorous pre-season campaign against local Victorian sides. The aim of these encounters was to help ease the squad back into competitive action, to assess potential recruits and to welcome new additions to the squad. South wrapped up this “soul-searching” exercise this past Monday (25/08/03) by defeating the Oakleigh Cannons with an impressive 5-2 final score line.
Coach Munro has strategically chosen to up the level of opposition with each encounter going from State 2 N/W division leaders Pascoe Vale to Victorian Premier League promotion contenders Oakleigh. Throughout the exercise Munro has rarely fielded a side that may resemble his best 11 players, instead opting to thoroughly test a variety of prospective key-position players and promising youngsters. Coach Munro would’ve no doubt been impressed by the consistent performances of youngsters such as Murdocca, Ibraimi and Marinos and will be more than satisfied with the solid debuts of both high-profile off-season recruits Max Lohy and Michael Panopoulos.
South will now embark on the final stage of Coach Munro’s pre-season plan facing off against NSL opposition. A pre-season trip to South Australia to play against NSL side the Adelaide City Force has been planned and a friendly – at Bob Jane Stadium – against fierce local rivals the Melbourne Knights pencilled in for Sunday the 14th of September. Both encounters have been earmarked to help “match-harden” the final squad before the upcoming NSL season.
It is envisaged that Munro will teeter towards finally fielding a full-strength line-up, an ideal that South supporters over past month or so have been “salivating” over in preparation to witness.