Tuesday, 1 August 2006 8:18 PM
By Michael Tsoukalalis
This Sunday the Stuart Munro coached and table-topling Oakleigh Cannnons travel to Bob Jane Stadium to take on John Anastasiadis’s men.
In what promises to be one of, if not the match of the season, South Melbourne’s youngsters who have done superbly well this season to carve out a position in the top two, face their stiffest test up against a Cannons outfit who has put together an eight match unbeaten sprint whilst establishing a 12 point buffer atop the Vodafone Cup standings.
A result on Sunday will mathematically guarantee the South-Eastern suburbs club the minor championship with the Cannons looking to secure the double over South this season building on their narrow 2-1 triumph in Round 10 earlier this year.
After a patchy run of results, South produced a solid display last Friday night to halt the five game winning streak of Richmond, defeating Phil Stubbins’ men by a solitary Billy ‘the kid’ Natsioulas strike and in the process virtually wrapping up a spot in the top six.
After an injury plagued season, Coach Anastasiadis has most of his players available for selection (excluding the season long injury to Arthur Tsonis) with only Con Blatsis likely to miss.
South however will have to be at their absolute best if they are to halt an Oakleigh outfit who under the guidance of ex-South Coach Stuart Munro appear to have the measure of the competition, playing solid, but more importantly, results-driven football.
The Cannons possess a squad jam packed with National League experience and in strikers Esala Masi and Anthony Pelikan have an attack which has yielded 22 goals so far this term. Masi and Pelikan are also joined by the diminutive Juan Nilo who can always be relied on to get his fair share of goals, Nilo hasn’t disappointed this season chipping in with 6 for the term.
Missing from the encounter earlier in the season was ex-South talisman Con Boutsianis who has come into the squad and established himself as a permanent fixture after the season ending injury to winger Cameron Pino.
Boutsianis along with the likes of fellow ex-South Melbourne players Bill Damianos and George Goutzioulis provide a high level of quality in the centre of the park that is well supplemented by their ability to score goals.
For South to get a positive result, the likes of Brazilian Fernando Moraes, talented attacking midfielder Scot MacNicol and compact forward Andreas Oliveira must play well and try and impose their natural game as early as possible on the encounter.
Furthermore, the solid defensive display produced against Richmond Tigers will have to be replicated with the experience of Tansel Baser proving invaluable in steering and organising a young defensive quartet into one of the league’s finest.