Thursday, 8 March 2007 11:38 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne travel to Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Friday eager for a win after a stuttering display in last week’s opening fixture against Heidelberg.
In a game South should’ve won after managing to score three times at home, three defensive errors saw Heidelberg snatch a point and leave the South faithful disappointed.
Conversely, Richmond started their campaign in positive fashion, coming from a goal down against the AIS to snatch a 1-2 win in the dying minutes of the game.
The Phil Stubbins’ coached outfit have a workmanlike squad that doesn’t include many superstar players but under the experience and Premier League know-how of Stubbins, Richmond will no doubt be expected to push for a top six birth.
In midfielder Brendan Beni and strikers Joe Di Iorio and Xhezair Sulemani, Richmond possess a trio of enigmatic players who on their day can have great influence on matches.
Sulemani was on the score sheet against the AIS whilst Di Iorio moved to Richmond in the off season after spending last year at Kingston. Di Iorio was instrumental in Richmond’s promotion from State 1 two seasons ago and returns to the club looking to fulfill the promise he showed as a youngster which saw him win a contract with German Bundesliga giants Werder Bremen.
In the South camp, no injuries were sustained in the match against Heidelberg with Coach John Anastasiadis unlikely to make major changes to the lineup.
Defensive off-season recruit Frank Drakopoulos did show great enthusiasm and spirit when he was brought on last week and may have perhaps worked his way into Anastasiadis’s plans with the likes of Tansel Baser suspended and the continuous injury cloud hanging over Con Blatsis.
Encouraging for South was the breathtaking debut of new striker Ricky Diaco, Diaco lit up Bob Jane Stadium with a stunning strike after only three minutes and finished the game with two goals after scoring an equalizer late on.
Diaco’s physical presence and finishing ability are exactly what South has been missing over the past two seasons and after such a promising and dynamic start to his career in the blue and white Diaco will be looking to further build on his debut performance.