Friday, 7 April 2006 1:28 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne returns to Bob Jane Stadium this weekend looking to get their season back on track after three consecutive disappointing results have landed John Anastasiadis’s men outside the top 6 for the first time this season.
Coach Anastasiadis is likely to include new recruits Antonio Naglieri and Andreas Oliveira in the squad with both players keen to make an impression after having a hit-out last week with the Under-21 side.
Conversely, Richmond will be keen to get a positive result as they currently languish in the bottom two but due to the closeness of the Vodafone Cup a win could see Dean Hennessy’s men steer clear of the drop zone.
Richmond hasn’t tasted victory since the opening round of the season, while South’s last triumph was against Preston in round 4.
With both sides out-of-form, returning to Bob Jane Stadium could not have come at a better time for South who will be looking to win convincingly to restore supporter faith as well as build confidence in front of goal, as similarly to last season, the team is consistently carving out decent openings, however, without the expected efficiency on the scoreboard.
Players South must look to contain in the Richmond camp include the talented Brendan Beni who moved from Heidelberg in the off-season. Beni has quality technique with the ability to turn games with his vision and willingness to run at defenders through the middle of the park.
Furthermore, striker James Robinson found some form last week, bagging a double against Fawkner-Whittlesea to bring his season tally to three.
In the South camp, Naglieri and Oliveira will hopefully inject some freshness and with Captain Vaughn Coveny scoring last week against Altona and the markedly improved performance of Kevin Nelson off the bench, South should have plenty of attacking presence and goal-scoring ability on the park.
Finally, one area of concern this season for South has been the increase in goals conceded. With Arthur Tsonis out for the rest of the season and Con Blatsis still at least a couple of weeks away, added pressure and expectation will be placed on the shoulders of youngsters James Stefanou and Sammy DeVito. Both did reasonably well last week against Altona, but with South at home, a clean sheet must be the aim.