Friday, 17 August 2007 1:14 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne travels to Paisley Park Saturday afternoon knowing that they must break new ground and beat Altona away if John Anastasiadis’s men want to figure in this season’s finals campaign.
A costly draw to Fawkner last week in a game which South dominated has placed added pressure on the Albert Park-based club who in their two seasons since returning to Victoria’s Premier football competition have failed to come away from Altona with the three points.
In fact earlier this season an ineffective South was defeated 1-3 at Bob Jane Stadium by the Vlado Tortevski-coached club with Altona extremely potent on the counter and able to absorb South’s attacking raids.
A win for South could potentially propel the club to as high as fourth place, but would nevertheless guarantee them at least fifth position. Conversely, if Altona lose they could drop out of the top six.
South may be bolstered by the return of silky winger Yusef Yusef who has trained all week after sustaining a calf strain two weeks ago against the Melbourne Knights. Left-back Adam Van Dommele who went off early against Fawkner after suffering a nasty laceration under his eye has been training and will lineup against the Magic.
Unfortunately for South, Brazilian Fernando Moraes will miss again due to his troublesome knee injury with the inspirational Tansel Baser who tore a hip flexor against Fawkner, likely to miss at least two weeks.
The Magic have one of the better defences in the league and in strikers Michael Curcija and last season’s Gold Medal winner Saso Becvinovski have an extremely dangerous attack. Curcija and Becvinovski have scored 16 times between them this season and will have to be carefully watched by the South defence. Englishman Fidell Richards also looms as a genuine threat, with the Ex-Sunshine Georgies player possessing tremendous pace and good dribbling ability that can cause major headaches for defences.
Altona also have some very experienced players at Premier League level with the likes of goalkeeper Bojo Jevdjevic and ex-South Melbourne player Levent Osman having had vast experience in the National League and in Osman’s case, in Europe as well.
It must be noted that South has improved tremendously from a defensive perspective over the past 5 games, keeping four clean sheets and only conceding two goals. The return of the colossal Arthur Tsonis and with Baser playing in the centre of defence has patched up what was at times a leaky backline, however, with Baser missing against Altona, it will be interesting to see who Coach Anatasiadis selects to partner Tsonis.