Friday, 29 June 2007 1:15 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne returns to Bob Jane Stadium this Friday night looking to recover from last week’s disastrous 3-nil loss to Heidelberg United.
South has slipped to fifth position but can jump to as high as third with a win against the Eagles.
Richmond’s form has been patchy of late with the Doug Hodgson coached outfit winning only one of their past four matches.
The arrival of Hodgson who replaced now Adelaide United assistant Coach Phil Stubbins coincided with an influx of new players at Richmond. Ex-South Melbourne striker Jesse Krncevic , who has scored three times in four games, experienced Premier League goalkeeper Stuart Webster who arrived from Oakleigh and ex-South Melbourne midfielder Yanni Galanos were signed and immediately integrated into the starting eleven.
Hodgson can also rely on one of the league’s fastest and most potent forwards in Henry Fa’arodo. Fa’arodo has scored five times this season with his pace and excellent ball control always causing South problems.
In the South camp Coach John Anastasiadis has a big job in front of him lifting his players after their very poor showing last week at Olympic Village, a game in which few or no positives came from the Albert Park-based club.
Anastasidis will also no doubt have to re-think his defensive setup with South’s three man defence which saw Sam DeVito play out of position as a centre back grossly exposed by a determined Bergers outfit.
With players like Arthur Tsonis proven in the central defensive role as well as the versatility of Tansel Baser who can also play quite well in the heart of defence, not to mention the sheer physicality of Frank Drakopoulos, Anastasiadis isn’t short of defensive cover.
However, it must be noted that South have also been managing quite a few niggles. Vasilios Natsioulas has been battling a hamstring injury for a couple of weeks, Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes has been restricted by a sore ankle with South top-scorer Ricky Diaco in the same boat whilst the inspirational Baser has also been playing with groin problems.
Youngsters Gianni De Nittis and Nick Curtis are still overcoming knee and muscle related injuries respectively with De Nittis’s ability to score goals and Curtis’s work ethic in the centre of the park being greatly missed.
To get a positive result, South will have to make sure they operate effectively in defence whilst making sure the midfield battle leans in their favour. Against the Bergers, South were smashed in the centre of the park and as a result, the defence was massively exposed.