Friday, 8 September 2006 12:18 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne travel to Knights Stadium on Sunday taking on the in-from Altona Magic with a spot in the 2006 Vodafone Cup grand final up for grabs.
Both teams are coming off sterling triumphs in the first round of the finals with South Melbourne leaving it late to sweep past Green Gully by 3 goals to nil, whilst Altona caused quite the upset in defeating minor premiers Oakleigh 0-2.
Altona have had the wood of the South this season managing to win both their regular season encounters against John Anastasiadis’s men.
The Magic are a very disciplined and organized outfit whereby every player knows his role and performs it on a consistent basis.
They also have the added advantage of possessing the best goal scorer in the league in Saso Becvinovski. The Altona striker has been a revelation, scoring 18 goals this season overhauling long-time Premier League top marksman Michael Curcija in the process and building a reputation for superb finishing.
Altona have quality and experience all over the park with goalkeeper Bojo Jevdjevic, defender Levent Osman and winger Daniel Vasilevski all having decent careers in the national league.
Throw into the mix the versatility of brothers Tomi and Ivan Razov as well as experienced premier league players like Alfonso Opazo and there is no doubting Altona’s credentials as a potential finalist this year.
In the South camp, the resounding 3-0 triumph against Green Gully has no doubt revitalized John Anastasiadis’s men who now find themselves in the exact same position they were in last season with two cracks at making the final.
Naturally, South will want to tie up a grand final position as soon as possible and will go into Sunday’s encounter with the added incentive of wanting to show that they are capable of knocking off Vlado Tortevski’s charges who have defeated South 3-1 and 0-1 in their two earlier meetings this campaign.
On the injury front colossal defender Con Blatsis is looking doubtful after succumbing to a leg injury during the game against Gully and having to be substituted.
Blatsis aside every other player who was part of the Gully game will be available with South no doubt likely to switch Tansel Baser to central defence and promote midfield dynamo George Tzirtis to the starting eleven.
On a positive note, young winger Vasilios Natsioulas looks to have resumed light running with giant defender Arthur Tsonis also re-entering the training track for the first time since his knee injury. No doubt with both lads being quite popular around the club they will be an added inspiration to the South Melbourne squad as they go into battle for a place in the final.