Friday, 5 August 2005 1:04 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Postponed earlier on the season due to the FFV’s commitment to a tour of China, this eagerly awaited Round 18 clash sees two of the stronger supported sides in the Vodafone Premier League come head-to-head in a game of extreme mathematical importance.
With the Cannons sitting just outside the top 6, a win against South and a slip up by Altona would see Stuart Munro’s men back into the final’s race.
Conversely, full points for South would see the Albert Park-based club apply real pressure on gaining the elusive top-two placing that would see John Anastasiadis’s men gain the double chance in the finals.
Both sides’ strengths lie in contrast. Whilst South have continuously had the best defence in the competition, failure to convert their chances in front of goal sees the Albert Park-based club have one of the worst “goals scored” records in the league. Conversely, the Cannons lead the VPL in “goals scored”, sharing the workload amongst players such as Juan Nilo and George Goutzioulis (7 goals each), Anton Kovacic, Ante Pelikan and Steve Panopoulos (5 goals each).
The two sides met earlier in the season in a Round 5 fixture which was characterised by a grinding South Melbourne performance. That night a late winner by Peter Koutsoupias saw South escape with the points with the Cannons players no doubt eager to avenge the manner in which they experienced defeat.
In the South camp Con Blatsis remains doubtful as a recurring calf injury continues to plague the brilliant defender. Blatsis’s influence has been superbly filled by the excellent form of youngster Steven O’Dor who seems to grow from strength-to-strength with each outing.
South’s defensive strength owes a great deal to the continual inspirational form of goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis. Anastasiadis’s brilliance between the uprights cannot be underestimated with the veteran custodian significantly aiding South’s points tally this term.
Growing in stature with every game, Brazilian import Fernando is starting to deliver the silky skills and genius that the South faithful had dreamt upon hearing of his arrival. Fernando has been joined by a rejuvenated Scot MacNicol who has managed to rediscover his brilliant early season form after returning to the attacking midfield role.
Finally, skipper Vaughan Coveny has found the net in his past two encounters and is starting to show the type of form in his general link-up play that coupled with his tremendous pace, will no doubt strike fear into the Oakleigh defence.