Thursday, 28 February 2008 2:29 PM
By George Kouroumalis
South Melbourne must put aside the last two weeks when it takes on Western Suburbs, in what is believed to be a highly contested derby match on Sunday at Bob Jane Stadium.
The home side has had a tough start to the season, after being defeated narrowly on two occasions by Heidelberg and Coburg, both by a 2-1 score line, leaving the club from lakeside without a competition point to date.
This game however provides South with an opportunity to get back on track and at the same time push its way up the table – whilst it currently languishes in the lower regions of the ladder, with the club being 2 points off 6th placed Oakleigh.
Coach John Anastasiadis will be tempted to once again adjust the side slightly in an attempt to find the right balance that could see his side snatch the points.
Nathan Caldwell who received some concussion and Ricky Diaco who has a slight groin strain may make way for Hamlet Armenian and Gianni De Nittis up front, a position that the latter two played well in when given a run on Sunday.
The key area which Anastasiadis will be worried about is the centre of the park and who will play in the creative midfield and defensive midfield positions.
Last week the coach opted for the use of Bill Natsioulas and Sam Poutakidis in these roles and for the most part it worked quite well, with both players having reasonable games against Coburg.
However knocking on the door will be Fernando, who after coming on last week showed that he was eager to retain that first eleven position by scoring the only goal for South.
Other options that could play in the middle of the park are youngsters Antonio La Verde and Jose Vasquez, both of whom are regarded as quite promising young footballers and are predicted to have big futures with the club.
Defensive duties however will be expected to be handed to the same quartet as the first fortnight of the season, with captain Dean Anastasiadis keen to keep a clean sheet in the South Melbourne goal, something that has not been achieved so far in season 2008.
A tight defensive line and a concerted effort to negate the Western Suburbs attacking players, will go a long way in ensuring that the 3 points are snapped up by the Lakeside team.
Western Suburbs however cannot be underestimated and will provide the club with tough opposition, with the Kon Pappas lead side boasting an impressive win last week against the Fawkner Blues to kick start their campaign for 2008.
South fans will be familiar with a few names in the squad, namely former South Melbourne central defender Arthur Tsonis, who will return to Bob Jane Stadium for the first time after being released over the summer.
Tsonis played an integral part in the South squad over the last 3 seasons, playing in 48 games and scoring on four occasions.
It is expected that he will play in the central defensive position with former FFV Gold Medal winner Terry Antoniadis, in what is seen to be a formidable defensive duo.
It will be up to these two individuals to control the South Melbourne attacking third, as well as to give their side some genuine on field leadership in a match that will be played in front of a passionate South Melbourne home crowd.
Another former South player that will take to the park is Vas Kalogeracos, who has joined the Western Suburbs based club this season after crossing over from Western Australia.
Kalogeracos played 25 games with South back in the 2000/01 NSL season and will provide the South defensive with a substantial headache as he will look to put a goal or two past his old club.
The club urges all members and supporters to get to Bob Jane Stadium and assist the club in bringing home its first win for the season.
We also urge everyone who has not purchased a 2008 Membership as yet to get on board and show their support for SMFC.