Thursday, 23 June 2005 6:45 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
After a week’s hiatus due to the commitments of the VPL state team’s trip to China, Vodafone Premier League action resumes this weekend with South Melbourne making the trip down to Paisley Reserve for a crucial game against the Ken Murphy-coached Altona Magic.
With their past 5 encounters yielding 4 draws and a loss, the Magic have dropped out of the top six in recent weeks and must win if they are to their maintain hopes of competing in September finals action.
Conversely, in the same period, Coach John Anastasiadis’s men have picked up 3 wins and 2 draws to find themselves in clear 2nd place and only 1 point behind ladder leaders Green Gully.
With the season panning out as it has, a win on Saturday will move South into the 37 point bracket which will most probably prove enough to guarantee a spot in the finals.
For the Magic the versatile Cameron Pino has netted six times this season and must be closely monitored. Pino can play as an out-and-out striker, drop in the midfield and has even played defence in the earlier part of his career. Pino has been well supported by the goal-scoring form of Koce Delev who has chipped in with 5 goals.
Altona’s spine consists of experienced former National League players such as ex-Melbourne Knight’s keeper Martin John as well former South players Levent Osman and Marcus Stergiopoulos who form the core of the Magic’s defence and midfield respectively.
In the South camp, goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis continues to be in superb form. His latest inspirational effort came against Bulleen where his alertness and sharp saves gave South the platform to always be in the game and eventually score the winner.
Con Blatsis continues to have question marks surrounding his fitness with the colossal centre back having not played for almost 6 weeks. In his absence however, Arthur Tsonis has lead the heart of the defence with aplomb with the emergence of youngsters Sammy DeVito and Steven O’Dor and the consistency and sheer passion of Rama Tavsancioglu allowing for South to continue to have the best defence in the league.
Scot MacNicol continues to chip in with vital goals from midfield with the front pairing of Peter Koutsoupias and Vaughn Coveny one of the quickest in the league.