Wednesday, 15 February 2006 10:45 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne will be looking to extend their perfect start to the 2006 Vodafone Cup campaign when they travel to Grange Reserve to take on the newly promoted and first time in the State’s Premier Division, Kingston City.
The George Katsakis coached outfit were resounding State 1 Champions and have recruited quite heavily to ensure not only that they maintain their Premier League status, but to also have serious claims for Championship honours.
Notable Kingston signings include the likes of leading 2005 Vodafone Cup marksman Michael Curcija who joins fellow ex-Socceroo Joe Spiteri to form one of, if not the most formidable forward partnerships in this season’s competition.
A plethora of players with National League experience have also been recruited with ex-South Melbourne players featuring prominently. Con Anthopoulos, Steve Iosifidis, Alex Kiratzoglou, Nick Tolios and Marcus Stergiopoulos all at one point played for South and all form a vital part of Kingston’s 2006 campaign.
Marconi custodian Michael Turnbull who was on the books of Belgium’s Standard Liege last season was a late arrival and has slotted into the role of Kingston’s number 1, providing further quality to an extremely talented playing squad.
Kingston’s start to the season has been mixed. A solid 1-0 win against the Sunshine Georgies got their season off to a positive beginning; however, after Joe Spiteri had put them ahead against Altona, the Magic rallied and managed to overturn the result 2-1 in their favour.
Conversely, South have started the season with two solid, albeit late in coming, wins against Heidelberg and Fawkner-Whittlesea with both wins highlighting the tremendous work John Anastasiadis’s men put in over the pre-season, getting themselves in top physical condition and hence being able to finish over-the-top of their opponents towards the end of matches.
Encouraging for South was the debut of Kevin Nelson who did what he was brought in to do and put the ball in the back of the net, scoring with an exquisitely placed header to hand South the points against Fawkner.
South have also continued to build on their defensive strength of last season with their opening two encounters rarely producing a troubling moment for 2005 goalkeeper-of-the-year Dean Anastasiadis. Con Blatsis, Arthur Tsonis, Rama Tavsancioglu and Ivory Coast Native Jonas Salley form a cohesive and extremely intimidating defensive quartet, containing, speed, strength, height and good communication that will no doubt provide a stern test for Kingston’s highly rated strike-force.
Defensive Midfield signing Tansel Baser has integrated extremely well and has brought an extra dimension to the South centre-line, whilst Brazilian Fernando Moraes keeps on going from strength-to-strength, taking on the responsibility of being South’s creative workhorse with his ability to get past players and keep his composure to produce chances, a highlight of South’s opening two games thus far.