Wednesday, 25 April 2007 12:07 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne return to Bob Jane Stadium this Sunday in search of a much-needed three points to propel them back into the top six and get their season back on track.
The Vlado Tortevski-coached Altona Magic have a point more than South but currently sit in fifth position with a win cementing their status in the top-six.
Both sides haven’t registered wins for close to a month and will be determined to stop their run of ill-form come Sunday.
Altona of course have one of the most dangerous striking partnerships in the country with last season’s Gold Medal winner Saso Becvinovski partnering new recruit and ex-South Melbourne striker Michael Curcija.
Curcija has been the Premier League’s most prolific marksman over the past three seasons with his predatory in-the-box instincts well complimented by fellow new recruit and attacking option Fidell Richards. The tall and speedy Englishman has played for Heidelberg and the Sunshine Georgies over the past two seasons with his pace and direct play a feature of his game.
The Magic possess one of the most experienced and talented squads in the league with the Delev brothers, Koce and Kole always a significant threat and with experienced players at higher levels such as ex-South Melbourne player Levent Osman and ex-Melbourne Knights winger Goran Talevski, Altona have enough quality all around the park to cause South problems.
In the South camp, John Anastasiadis’s men have been guilty of playing good football but not managing to kill-off of games in their two recent encounters against Fawkner and Oakleigh.
South’s recent run of dry form in front of goals may force Coach Anastasiadis to re-introduce last season’s goal-scoring hero Gianni De Nittis back into the starting eleven and in his favored striking role.
De Nittis has seen his playing time somewhat reduced this season with the signing of Nathan Caldwell and after bursting onto the scene last season with a spate of crucial goals, including three against Altona during the finals campaign, De Nittis is nearing a full recall.
The return to Bob Jane could serve as a double blessing for South with its silky ball players returning to one of the best surfaces in the country. South suffered last week with players like Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes unable to play their natural game on the uneven Fawkner pitch.
Sunday’s game also serves as the last one of Tansel Baser’s suspension with the inspirational defensive midfielder due to return in next week’s encounter against the AIS whilst Con Blatsis’s return remains indefinite as he continues his recovery from various niggling injuries.