Friday, 25 May 2007 4:04 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
This Sunday at Bob Jane Stadium South squares up against eternal rivals the Preston Lions in what looms as a do-or-die match for John Anastasiadis’s men.
After an inconsistent season, South face the most consistent team of the current campaign, a Preston Lions outfit coached by ex-South stalwart Goran Lozanovski that has gone unbeaten for over two months to sit comfortably in third position.
On the other hand the Champions have had an up-and-down campaign, struggling to put together a consistent run of results which sees South currently in seventh position, a point outside the top six.
Particularly disappointing for the Albert Park-based outfit has been its leaky defence with up to three players destined to depart for A-League contracts later on in the season, South on paper were considered to have by far the best defensive structure in the league. However, the season-ending injury to club legend and goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis, coupled with indecisive decision making has seen South concede avoidable goals at crucial times.
The Lions have one of the better squads in the league with danger-men Blaze Georgioski and Johnny Sapazovski having scored 10 goals between them. Of course the Reservoir-based outfit posses one of the best goalkeepers in the country in Lupce Acevski who has been nothing short of spectacular during the current campaign.
The experience of winger Tony Sterjovski coupled with the youthful quality of players like Steven Pace, Marino Gasparis and Isyan Erdogan make Preston one of the most formidable teams in the league with an even spread of experience and promising youth.
In the South camp, Coach John Anastasiadis will have to seriously considering starting both Vasilios Natsioulas and Gianni De Nittis. Both players have had reduced roles this season because of off-season arrivals, but particularly in the case of Natsioulas, who was outstanding after coming off the bench against Whittlesea, a recall to the first eleven is almost a certainty.
It is worth noting that De Nittis has been played largely out of position this season out of necessity, but with his cool finishing during the business-end of last season steering South to the Championship, Coach Anastasiadis will be weighing up whether to start the young striker as South has been quite wasteful this season in front of goals.
South will have to produce a consistent performance all over the park if it is to get a positive result against the Lions, players like Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes, Tansel Baser and Ricky Diaco who have been proven very successful at this and higher levels will need to lead the way and set the tone for their team-mates to follow.