South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South Melbourne v Melbourne Knights – Match Preview

South Melbourne v Melbourne Knights – Match Preview

Thursday, 12 April 2007 5:06 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

The Foxtel Cup resumes this weekend with the Chris Taylor-coached Melbourne Knights making the trip to Bob Jane Stadium for what looms as a crucial fixture for both sides.

South are currently in sixth position with a win likely to cement their place in the top-six and propel them as high as second on the ladder results pending.

Conversely, the Knights have made a stuttering start to the season, winning one game and drawing another three to find themselves in tenth position, however, only two points from a top-six birth.

After an extremely disappointing 2006 campaign where the Knights avoided relegation on the final day, the Sunshine-based club has recruited strongly in hope of building a team that can challenge for the Championship. In have come ex-South Melbourne players Steve Iosifidis and Alex Kiratzoglou as well as prolific Premier League marksman Joe Spiteri.

These three players along with experienced custodian Adrian Cagalj give the Knights a strong and dependable spine that has been proven at the highest level of football in Australia.

The Knights have supplemented their squad with up-and-coming players in Stefan Piorkowski, Dario and Hrvoje Matkovic, Neven Antic, Matthew Grbesa, and 17 year old prodigy Mate Dugandzic with Coach Chris Taylor having no doubt elected to try and weld a squad that achieves a quality balance of youth and experience.

In the South camp, young winger Vasilios Natsioulas is likely to return after overcoming a groin injury with the rest of the lineup fairly settled with Tansel Baser still having 2 more games of his suspension to serve and colossal defender Con Blatsis trying to get his body right for a return sometime during the campaign.

Coach John Anastasiadis made some surprise changes to his starting eleven against Oakleigh two weeks ago starting both Yusuf Yusuf and Nicholas Curtis. Perhaps Anastasiadis was forced to ring some changes after the incredibly lackluster performance of his team the week before against Green Gully. Both players did reasonably well with Curtis in particular producing a gritty and battling performance.

Encouraging for South has been the form of its new recruits. In from striker Ricky Diaco continues to stand out for the Lakeside-based club scoring against Oakleigh last week to take his season’s tally to four goals and as well as providing a constant threat and target for South.

Flying winger Trent Waterson has also settled in very quickly to life at Bob Jane Stadium, putting in some scintillating performances on the right wing and showing an incredible ease to fly past his marker and whip in quality crosses.

If South can find its rhythm and settle in early to the free-flowing style of football it has the ability to produce, Chris Taylor’s men may struggle to get a positive result. That said, the Knights have some experienced and quality personnel in their lineup and will no doubt be eager to avenge last season’s 7-0 humiliation during their 2006 visit to Bob Jane Stadium.

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