Thursday, 27 April 2006 7:07 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne returns to Bob Jane Stadium this Sunday looking to kick-start a stuttering campaign.
John Anastasiadis’s men have been unable to string a run of positive results and hence find themselves just outside the top 6 albeit with a game in hand.
Sunday’s game serves as a “six-pointer” for South as Bulleen are the team directly above them, holding the last spot in the top 6.
Bulleen coach Michael Michalakopoulos is quickly building a solid name for himself amongst the Vodafone Cup coaching circle, having done a good job at Essendon last season, the ex-South Melbourne striker took the coaching reigns from the experienced Peter Ollerton inheriting a side which was nearly relegated last season.
Michalakopoulos has managed to string together a 5-game unbeaten run which has seen the Zebras cling onto an early top-6 birth.
Bulleen’s strength lies in its vastly experienced squad with players like Frank Tramontana, Stelios Drakos and Ross Antoniadis all having played more than 150 games at this level.
Up front, the Zebras possess some decent talent with the newly acquired (from Essendon) Ben Harbison scoring twice so far this term after a productive last season with the Royals. Partnering Harbinson could be ex-A-League player Ricky Diaco who must overcome a slight knock if he is to line-up against South.
Diaco provides and aerial presence and quick feet up-front making him a large void should he not line up. Furthermore, Diaco’s race towards fitness has become more important after leading goal-scorer (3 goals this term) Hamlet Armenian received a red card against Altona and hence will not be able to line up against South.
Youngster and A-League player Billy Celeski may also miss after an injury kept him out of the game against Altona, however, his 17-year old replacement Adam Fedjevic was outstanding in the centre of the park for the Zebras, limiting the absence the Perth Glory midfielder.
Similarly to South the Zebras have conceded more goals than they have scored, with both sides only having found the net on 10 occasions thus far.
South has moved to solve its goal-scoring problems with the diminutive Andreas Oliveira scoring his first goal for the club in last Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Oakleigh.
Oliveira has looked extremely potent and sharp and with the support of veteran striker and club captain Vaughn Coveny, could form an extremely effective partnership for the Lakeside-based club that is bound to cause plenty of problems for the Zebras.
With Con Blatsis returning to first team action against Oakleigh, the challenge for Coach John Anastasiadis is to find the best balance on the park.
Rama Tavsancioglu continues to serve his suspension after receiving a red card against Richmond and with the season-ending injury to Arthur Tsonis, South’s back four takes on a relative inexperienced tone with new recruit Dino Djulbic joining the likes of Tansel Baser, Sammy DeVito and Con Blatsis in a backline that has spent little time together as a defensive unit.