Friday, 12 March 2004 12:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Buoyed by a determined nil-all draw at Marconi Stadium, South come into the 2nd leg knowing that a victory at home will propel them to the next stage of the finals.
South went into last week’s first leg under a cloud of bad form that saw the Lakesiders only pick up 1 point from a possible 15 in the lead in to the business end of the season.
Bad form aside South played an accomplished defensive game focussing on nullifying the attacking threat of many of Marconi’s danger-men. Marconi was limited to an array of long range efforts that failed to threaten the goal-mouth of South custodian Eugene Galekovic.
Now at home Stuart Munro’s men will be determined to turn on the attacking style in the hope of getting the all important goal that will send them to the next round.
For the visitors Captain Brad Maloney has not managed to recover from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the 1st leg and will hence miss the corresponding fixture. Marconi created many chances in the opening fixture; however, the drive of Maloney and his innate ability to get in behind the opposition?s defence and nab a goal was sorely missed. Maloney’s absence represents a stroke of good fortune for South.
Lacklustre finishing can also be attributed to Marconi failing to get on the scoresheet in the 1st leg, both young starlets Alex Brosque and Nick Carle had plenty of decent shooting efforts that failed to test Galekovic. Though it must be said that South’s stern defence led by the brilliant performances of the ultra consistent Ante Kovacevic and the defensively assured Levent Osman played a major role in limiting Marconi?s attackers to long-range efforts, no doubt South’s backline will have to put in a similar performance in the 2nd leg if the deadly influence of attacking trio Brosque, Carle and Spiteri is to be contained.
Somewhat surprisingly Stuart Munro handed starts to both Massimo Murdocca and Scott Tunbridge in the opening tie with Murdocca in particular impressing with a busy performance in the centre of the park, whilst Tunbridge recognising his team?s determination to grind out a result did a superb job in tracking back and helping out the defence in times of need.
South defensive stalwart Mehmet Durakovic who just recently announced his retirement may be in line for a call-up for what could very well be his last ever game at Bob Jane Stadium. Durakovic has been struggling with a hamstring injury for a great part of the season but will be determined as ever to have one last game in front of South’s adoring faithful. Should Durakovic fail to make the squad, he will be heartened by a lap of honour that has been planned to celebrate his illustrious career in the blue and white.
Coach Munro once again finds himself with a near full squad of players to choose from, only Marcus Stergiopoulos has a cloud hanging over his head from last week’s first leg after injuring a knee in a 50/50 tackle late in the first half. Stergiopoulos was promptly replaced and his knee heavily iced so whether or not he can get up for the 2nd leg remains to be seen.