Friday, 10 June 2005 1:15 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
This coming Sunday South Melbourne play their 2nd consecutive home game against the Peter Ollerton coached Bulleen Zebras in a fixture of paramount statistical importance for both sides.
With South a point from top spot and the Zebras only 2 points out of the relegation zone a win for either side could have significant repercussions on both ends of the table.
Bulleen have been ravaged with key player losses throughout their campaign. First goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos joined striker Ricky Diaco in leaving the club after landing A-League contracts, whilst after a few rounds into the season, proven VPL marksman Peter Kakos moved to the Oakleigh Cannons.
In desperate need of turning around their fortunes the Zebras have recently signed ex-South Melbourne journeyman Con Boutsianis. Even though the mercurial midfield/striker has seen better days, his left foot, set-piece ability and football brain will no doubt cause South potential problems.
In the South camp, Vasilios Natsioulas is still sidelined indefinitely. The exciting winger began training last Saturday but at the end of the session his glands continued to swell signalling that his battle with glandula fever is still far from over.
Colossal centre-back Con Blatsis has missed the last 3 games and continues to be battling a niggling calf injury that may very well rule him out again this Sunday.
Furthermore, Captain Vaughn Coveny is unlikely to play as his call-up to the New Zealand national team for the friendly fixture against the Socceroos in London would see the Kiwi stalwart extremely fatigued and hence likely to be rested.
Even though South will be potentially without 3 major players, John Anastasiadis’s footballing nous and sheer judgment has seen the unearthing and emergence of quality youngsters such as Steven O’Dor, Sammy DeVito and Evan Karavitis as well as the flair of Brazilian recruit Fernando Moraes.
Moraes in particular played a full game in last week’s encounter against Frankston scoring a stunning free-kick and showing positive signs after involving himself in many of the home side’s attacking raids.
Having these players at his disposal should allow Anastasiadis to field a strong line-up with the opportunistic finishing ability of pocket-dynamo Peter Koutsoupias likely to get the nod in attack again.