Thursday, 9 August 2007 10:07 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
After a season-defining win against the Melbourne Knights last Sunday at Knights Stadium, South returns to more familiar territory this Friday night playing Fawkner at Bob Jane Stadium in yet another must win game for both sides.
South are now presented with the opportunity to not only consolidate a top-six birth but to also push for the double chance.
Fawkner, who sacked coach Luciano Trani during the week and replaced him with Premier League journeyman Vlado Vanis, must get the three points to ease their threat of relegation.
Fawkner has been in steady decline in recent times having won only once in their past six encounters. Whilst the Blues have well distinguished players at VPL level such as goalkeeper Steven Tilovski, ex-A-League player Carl Recchia and leading scorer Mark Tsiorlas who has chipped in with 8 goals this season, the Blues lack more players with the all important cutting-edge.
Their 18 goals scored to date, ranks as the third lowest in the league with their goal-difference of negative seven also ranking as the equal third lowest.
New Coach Vlado Vanis faces quite a challenge to keep the Northern Suburbs-based club from relegation but will no doubt be expecting a fired up performance this week with players eager to win over Vanis and prove they deserve to play at Premier League level.
In the South camp, Tansel Baser returns after missing last week due to accumulated yellow cards. Baser’s return will give Coach John Anastasiadis far more options as the experienced ex-Trabzonspor player can play as a central defender or even as a holding midfielder.
Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes is likely to miss again with his knee injury considered a further 1-2 week proposition.
South looked in serious danger of missing the finals two weeks ago but an unexpected uplift in form which has seen the Albert Park-based club defeat two of the league’s stronger teams in Oakleigh and the Melbourne Knights has all of a sudden placed South in a position whereby a result against Fawkner could see John Anastasiadis’s men start to push for a top-three birth.
Besides an overall gritty team performance, South had quite a few positives from the Knights triumph. Pleasing was the continued dominance of Trent Waterson down the right flank, whilst Nathan Caldwell presented a large target up front, held the ball up well and was involved in both of South’s goals.
Arthur Tsonis also made a superb return after missing five weeks, marshalling the defence and presenting a colossal figure in the heart of South’s backline. Adam Van Dommele and Sammy DeVito also had very solid games with Vasilios Natsioulas always a threat when in attack.
South cannot afford to take Fawkner lightly and repeat the negative results at home suffered at the hands of Richmond (0-1) and Essendon (0-0) five-or-so weeks ago. John Anastadiadis’s men must show the same hunger they have had over their past two encounters and ensure they position themselves well to take the three points.