Thursday, 9 February 2006 1:53 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne makes its 2006 Vodafone Cup home debut this coming Sunday when John Anastasiadis’ chargers will be looking to back up last week’s 0-2 away triumph to eternal rivals Heidelberg with a victory against the John Markovski coached Fawkner-Whittlesea.
Fawkner got its 2006 campaign off to a shaky start last week failing to capitalize on an early lead to eventually go down 1-2 to the Altona Magic.
Markovski’s major acquisition to his playing roster is that of prolific Premier League marksman John Sapazovski from the Preston Lions. Fawkner will no doubt be relying on the gangly front man to form a formidable striking partnership with 2005 club top-scorer Mark Tsiorlas.
The core of Fawkner’s 2005 squad seems to have been maintained with experienced players such as midfielder Tony Sterjovski, defender Sasha Ognenovski and goalkeeper Steve Tilovski all lining up for the Blues this season.
In the South camp, coach Anastasiadis managed a superb tactical win last week, left at the last minute without the services of key import striker Kevin Nelson, Anastasiadis’ makeshift formation managed to deliver a positive result. The South coach will now have the Trinidad and Tobago native available for selection and it is expected that Nelson will take his position in the starting eleven at the expense of Peter Koutsoupias.
In his second season at the helm coach Anastasiadis has already managed to develop a healthy competition for places with rising youngsters Sammy DeVito and Vasilios Natsioulas failing to make the bench last week and with the addition of Nelson to the squad it will be interesting to see who Anastasiadis selects in his final 16.
Furthermore, returning favourite Tansel Baser made a superb transition back into South colours last week, marshalling the midfield and stepping up when required to boss the centre of the park and cap off his tremendous display with an early contender for goal of the season.
Finally, Sunday also presents the chance for the South faithful to welcome last week’s hero, Ivory Coast native and defensive rock Jonas Salley. Salley made an extremely impressive debut against Heidelberg, displaying a tenacity and hunger that is rare in all levels of the game, with Salley receiving just reward for his efforts with a towering injury time header to give South the initiative.