Friday, 31 March 2006 7:20 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
After disappointing consecutive performances against Essendon and Sunshine, South Melbourne travel to Paiseley Park this Saturday night to take on the undefeated and 2nd placed Altona Magic.
Coached by ex-South player and member of the coaching staff Ken Murphy, the Magic have started the season in outstanding fashion, producing 4 wins and 3 draws to sit only one point behind top-of-the-table Kingston City.
The Magic lost several quality players in the off-season, with goalkeeper Martin John moving to Sunshine, attacking midfielder Cameron Pino to Oakleigh and dogged defensive midfielder Marcus Stergiopoulos to Kingston.
However, Altona have managed to cover these losses, signing the likes of experienced Premier League and former NSL custodian Bojo Jevdjevic, handy midfield brotherly pairing Ivan and Tommy Razov, as well as securing the services of classy winger Daniel Vasilevski from A-League club Perth Glory.
In Sasho Becvinovski, the Magic have one of the most experienced goal-getters in the league, Becvinoski has already netted 5 times this season and will have to be closely watched if South are to keep a clean sheet.
Furthermore, twins Koce and Kole Delev are two of the more exciting players in the league with Koce Delev posing a genuine goal-scoring threat from the centre of the park.
Ex-South Melbourne players Levent Osman, Agim Sherifovski and Alfonso Opazo add quality and provide a solid spine in the defensive, midfield and forward areas of the pitch, topping off an extremely strong and competent Altona line-up.
Conversely, South Melbourne have shown worrying signs over their past two matches, lackluster displays and in-efficient finishing have cost John Anastasiadis’s men points in their last two encounters with a win – against Altona – crucial for South as it would consolidate their position in the top 6.
During the week South have moved swiftly in the transfer market in a bid to rectify their early season deficiencies, signing Western Australian natives and ex-Perth S.C. players Andreas Oliveira (striker), Antonio Naglieri (attacking midfielder) and Dino Djulbic (defender).
All three players will immediately come into contention for selection, especially with the lack of goals scored so far this season and the injuries to defensive stalwarts Con Blatsis and Arthur Tsonis.
In the case of Oliveira, he has already scored 3 goals in this season’s Vodafone Cup for the Frankston Pines, hence it is hoped that the he will be able to quickly acclimatize himself to South’s system of play and continue the good form he has shown in the league thus far.
A knee injury sustained in last week’s game against Sunshine will keep Arthur Tsonis out for the rest of the season with the colossal defender needing a knee reconstruction. James Stefanou will most likely take his place in the first 11 against the Magic.