Sunday, 29 February 2004 12:00 AM
Sydney Olympic 0 South Melbourne 0
SOUTH MELBOURNE failed in their effort to finish in the NSL top four when they struggled to a scoreless draw against Sydney Olympic at Jubilee Stadium today.
The match probably ended an era in the current NSL for the two Greek-based teams with the reshaped competition to start with the new league late this year.
South Melbourne still have their semi-final fixtures to play but today’s result finished the season for Olympic.
“It could be the end of a very long era in the history of two great NSL clubs,” said Olympic coach Peter Papanikitas.
Both teams had plenty of scoring chances but a strong crosswind and the bravery of goalkeepers Brett Hughes (Olympic) and Eugene Galekovic (Souths) ensured a goal-free match.
South Melbourne finished in fifth place, one point behind Marconi and the teams will meet next week in the first of the league semi-finals.
“Today was more a matter of breaking the monotony of losing the last four matches,’ South Melbourne coach Stuart Munro said.
“We will have three defenders back next week and probably key striker Vaughan Coveny, who was kept for the finals because he was sitting on three yellow cards.”
South Melbourne, without key strikers Coveny and Con Boutsianis, relied on the speedy Scott Tunbridge who shot wide with his team’s best chance in the opening session, while Michael Curcija was also off target with only the keeper to beat.
“We had slightly more chances than South Melbourne and I’m very proud of the way the team played over the last 10 weeks when we stretched every side in the second round,” said Papanikitas.
“I’m disappointed we did not make the top six but we could not score that one lucky goal.”
If South Melbourne had finished fourth, it would have had the home advantage for the first match of the home-and-away series but Munro said he was just as happy to play away at Marconi.
SYDNEY OLYMPIC 0 SOUTH MELBOURNE 0 at OKI Jubilee Stadium. Referee: S Micallef. Crowd: 3682.