Tuesday, 19 June 2007 4:26 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
This Wednesday night South Melbourne entertains 2007 A-League winners the Melbourne Victory.
A big crowd is expected at Bob Jane Stadium for the first meeting of Victoria’s Premier clubs.
The Victory has been playing Premier League competition over the past two weeks to help prepare them for the third season of the A-League.
Two weeks ago they narrowly defeated Richmond 0-1, whilst last Wednesday night they were pushed all the way in eventually defeating the Oakleigh Cannons by two goals to three.
The Victory has been using these matches to integrate new signings such as Englishman Joe Keenan and Socceroo Ljubo Milicevic, whilst also giving playing time to potential young signings such as Daniel Visevic and Cameron Watson.
That said, Ernie Merrick has been sending out all his available players in search of match fitness and sharpness, so South can well expect to face a near-full strength Melbourne Victory side come Wednesday evening.
Conversely, Victorian Champions South Melbourne have recently hit a solid run of results, recording three straight wins to move into third place in the Foxtel Cup whilst failing to hit top gear.
John Anastasiadis’s men will no doubt be eager to show their abilities against the A-League Champions, but with a crucial game on the weekend against bitter rivals Hedeilberg United, as well as having to manage quite a few injury concerns, South are unlikely to field anywhere near their strongest side for the contest.
Important players such as Vasilios Natsioulas, Tansel Baser and emerging youngster Jose Vasquez have all been playing with muscle injuries and with Sunday’s derby looming, may be rested whilst new defensive recruit Adam Van Dommele is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Wednesday’s encounter will serve as somewhat of a reunion for both sets of players with Melbourne Victory players Kevin Muscat, Daniel Allsopp, Michael Theoklitos and Eugene Galekovic all having played for South Melbourne during their careers.
Furthermore, South players such as Ricky Diaco and Ramazan Tavsancioglu played for the Victory during the inaugural A-League season whilst young goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak is currently on loan at South from the Victory. Wellington Phoenix recruit and South defender Steven O’Dor has trained with Ernie Merrick’s men in the past as has silky winger/striker Yusef Yusef.
With the Victory the leading scorers in the last year’s A-League season and South Melbourne currently the premier attacking team in the Foxtel Cup, attending supporters will no doubt be in for an entertaining encounter.