Thursday, 21 September 2006 4:01 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
The climax to a long season finally arrives this Sunday when a new Champion of the Vodafone Cup will be crowned. Both participants South Melbourne and Altona not only go into the encounter carrying great belief and confidence of the required result, but are also extremely worthy of finding themselves in the most prestigious fixture of the season.
South of course swept into the final after defeating Green Gully and the Magic in consecutive weeks to earn a week off, whilst Altona overcame minor premiers Oakleigh and Heidelberg on their journey towards Vodafone Cup glory.
Interesting for South will be how John Anastasiadis’s men respond to having a week off. A match last Saturday against State 2 outfit Clifton Hill was organized to help maintain match sharpness with all players having a decent hit-out.
Altona of course will have the extra motive of defeating South after loosing 1-2 a couple of weeks ago in their semi-final showdown.
On that day, South youngster Gianni De Nittis grabbed a double with veteran custodian Dean Anastasiadis producing two critical saves to ensure the Albert Park-based club were first to secure a place in Sunday’s finale.
South are no doubt aware of the need to minimize the influence of Gold Medal winner Saso Becvinovski who with his 18 goals so far this season remains major source of goals for the western suburbs based club.
Becvinovski was held relatively quiet in the semi final between both sides, but was still granted a glorious opportunity to score after a static South defence let the striker in. On that occasion Dean Anastasiadis produced a superb one-on-one save but it these sorts of defensive lapses that South cannot afford if it is to lift the Vodafone Cup.
Becvinoski aside, Altona have dangerous players all over the park. The Delev brothers Kole and Koce along with the Razov brothers Ivan and Tomi plus the exciting Daniel Vasilevski, bring quality and youthful exuberance to a side that is sprinkled with seasoned performers such as ex-South defender Levent Osman and ex-Morwell Falcons keeper Bojo Jevdjevic.
Injury wise, South has a full squad to choose from, excluding the season ending injuries suffered by Arthur Tsonis and Vasilios Natsioulas whilst colossal defender Con Blatsis has succumbed to the culmination of a few niggling injuries which have ruled him out.
South will therefore pretty much rely on the same starting 11 that got the job done against Altona last time, as well as Green Gully with the injuries and departures experienced by the club throughout the season limiting the depth at South’s disposal.
Crucial to South winning will be the ability to find the back of the net. Since the departure of club Captain Vaughn Coveny and Trinidad and Tobago native Kevin Nelson, South hasn’t had the attacking depth it did earlier in the season. However, the emergence of young striker Gianni De Nittis who has chipped in with 7 goals this season sees the young striker carry an immense responsibility in Sunday’s encounter.
With South on the verge of re-claiming a place a-top football in the state, all South Melbourne faithful are encouraged to show up in support of John Anastasiadis’s men who over the course of the season, have written yet another worthy chapter in the famous history of the blue and whites.