Friday, 23 March 2007 1:14 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
This Sunday South Melbourne return to Bob Jane Stadium after two impressive away wins against the Richmond Eagles and Essendon Royals respectively.
Awaiting John Anastasiadis’s men will be the Ian Dobson-coached Green Gully who have made a decent start to the season winning their first two encounters and sitting 3rd on the table with six points.
While Green Gully lost Rodrigo Vargas to the A-League mid-way through last season, they have replaced him with ex-Sunshine Georgies captain Manny Muscat. Muscat is a proven Premier League player and has slotted into the Gully backline with ease.
Gully have also added ex-Chilean international and Colo Colo player Marcelo Pena to their midfield. Pena is a silky midfielder who is also a delicate passer of the ball and is back for his second stint in the Premier League after spending the 2005 season with the Bentleigh Greens.
The Keilor-based outfit continues to have one of the league’s most experienced spines. Players such as Dean Fak, Dragi Nastevski, Jeffrey Fleming, Brandon Vassallo and Andy Vargas have all played regularly at the Premier League level for many seasons and know what it takes to consistently get results.
Vargas in particular will have to watched closely by South with his passing range, shooting and set-piece ability always a threat.
In the South camp, Coach John Anastasiadis would be extremely encouraged by last week’s performance, especially in the 2nd half against Essendon where the visitors tore the Royals to shreds.
Encouraging for South has been the form of its new recruits. Ricky Diaco, Trent Waterson and Nathan Caldwell have all been superb at various moments during the opening three encounters and have added the much needed cutting-edge to South’s play that was missing over the past two seasons.
Diaco in particular has been superb with his finishing and ability to bring other players into play by holding up the ball, as well as forming an almost telepathic understanding with Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes, adding much needed variety and depth to South’s play.
Anastasiadis will also have at his disposal the silky Yusef Yusef who has recovered from his niggling injury concerns and made his South debut in last week’s fixture, coming off the bench for last 15 minutes.
Vasilios Natsioulas could also return to the squad after missing last week’s match because of a groin injury but may be rested again to ensure a return to full fitness.