South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Melbourne Knights v South Melbourne – Match Preview

Melbourne Knights v South Melbourne – Match Preview

Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:37 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

The “Melbourne derby” as the South Melbourne vs. Melbourne Knights rivalry was known back in the days of the NSL may have dropped a level in National prestige, but in raw emotion, tradition and sheer will to win, the rivalry remains as fierce as ever.

South Melbourne has so far handled the drop to the Vodafone Premier League in a manner beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. With 5 consecutive wins racked up, of which 3 have been away from home and an as yet unbeaten start to the season, Coach John Anastasiadis’s chargers have done the legendary blue-and-white shirt extremely proud.

Conversely, the Knights have had a somewhat indifferent start to the season, managing only two wins, with a draw and three losses seeing them with a tally of only 7 points to-date and hence languishing only 1 game clear of the relegation zone. The Knight’s faithful have become disenchanted as pre-season it was mooted that the side had strong claims for a top 4 birth with these claims somewhat backed-up after a crowning 3-0 pre-season victory against South.

Like South, the Knights have had to assemble a squad from scratch that looks nothing like last year’s playing roster. Veteran custodian Adrian Cagalj is a proven shot-stopper and a rock between the uprights, with further NSL experience sprinkled amongst the likes of ex-South Melbourne midfielder Alex Kiratzoglou, and fellow centre players Tomi Razov and Daniel Rocco.

The Knights experienced a severe setback when immensely talented young defender Daniel Piorkowski was snapped up by A-League club the Melbourne Victory, Piorkowski had shown good signs of a successful recovery after a long-term knee injury and will be sorely missed.

Conversely, South’s squad appears to be brimming with confidence with Monday’s 1-0 win against Altona their most dominant display to-date. Arthur Tsirtsakis will miss through suspension after receiving a red card – in Monday’s fixture – for two bookable offences, his replacement is hard to pick though Scot MacNicol has shown this season to be more than capable at right-back with perhaps George Tzirtis or maybe even Ryan Dinse slipping back into the starting 11 allowing for Vasilios Natsioulas to take on a more central role, that said, promising young defender Steven O’Dor is also a chance to get the nod after losing his spot in the starting line-up to injury.

Special note must go out to South’s defence who have been immense all season. Keeper Dean Anastasiadis has regained near career best form, handling everything with assurance and producing the special save when needed. In front of him, the central defensive pairing of Arthur Tsonis and Con Blatsis are without a doubt the most formidable duo in the league. Tsonis has relished the extra responsibility at South and has improved with every game, whilst Blatsis has looked a class above in every game he’s played since his recovery from injury and return from overseas.

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