South Melbourne FC

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Essendon Royals v South Melbourne FC – Match Preview

Essendon Royals v South Melbourne FC – Match Preview

Wednesday, 14 March 2007 4:08 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne travel to the Veneto club this Friday night looking to end a 2 year-long curse against the Essendon Royals which has seen South never beat the Gary Groenewald coached outfit since re-entering the Premier League 2 seasons ago.

Both teams have started the season relatively well with both collecting a draw and a win in their opening encounters to sit third (Essendon) and fourth (South Melbourne) on the standings respectively.

A win for both sides could see them build an early buffer in the top six and as such both teams will no doubt be pushing hard for maximum points.

South have started the season on fire in front of goals, scoring six times in two games and living up to the scoring potential present in their ranks.

However, defensively South have struggled in the opening two fixtures, conceding 5 goals. It must be said that the new central defensive pairing of Steven O’Dor and Dino Djulbic are new to each other’s game and may take a few weeks to gel.

Up front the picture is entirely different with Coach John Anatasiadis having many options in attack. Off-season recruit Nathan Caldwell started his South career on fire last week against Richmond, scoring a double and integrating well with fellow striker and new recruit Ricky Diaco.

South also has the ever dangerous Brazilian Fernando Moraes in its ranks with the silky attacker once again showing his worth last week by scoring a glorious individual winner against Richmond.

Con Blatsis continues to be out for a significant amount of time with 6 weeks the tentative time given for his return. With Blatsis out, South are also feeling the suspension suffered pre-season by Tansel Baser with Coach Anastasiadis having to experiment with various players in the holding midfield role.

Exciting winger and off-season recruit Trent Waterson is pushing for a starting spot after struggling pre-season to shake off a nagging groin injury. Waterson could offer the ideal solution for South’s left flank and could be in contention to start on Friday.

Yusef Yusef is another potential inclusion, with the silky midfield/attacker close to full fitness.

In the Essendon camp, experience can be found in off-season defensive recruit Con Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos is an ex-South Melbourne player and has many years experience playing at national league level.

In Frank Lagana, Albert Gjuni and Yannis Galanos, Essendon possess a trio of talented young players who have the ability to influence results and with coach Groenewald’s philosophy of blooding youngsters on show early in the season, expect Essendon to present a committed and unified approach.

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