Thursday, 6 March 2008 1:18 PM
By John Kyrou & George Kouroumalis
Image: South celebrate emphatic 5-2 victory against Oakleigh in the 2007 Foxtel Cup
South will approach the contest full of confidence, following a resounding 5-0 demolition of Western Suburbs at Bob Jane Stadium last week, a win that raises hope for the supporters that it was the kick-start needed for the team in order to gain confidence and propel themselves up the table.
It is expected that the side from the Suburbs game will remain unchanged for this contest, with the only lingering question being the fitness of both Ricky Diaco and Nathan Caldwell, who both missed last week due to injuries sustained against Coburg in round 2. Diaco will be expected to once again miss this week with a groin strain that has plagued his 2008 season, whilst Caldwell will put his hand up for selection after recovering from a bout of concussion.
Tony La Verde and Jose Vasquez will once again throw their hat into the ring for the much sought after (and highly talked about) midfield spot, with La Verde impressing everyone with his debut performance last week against Suburbs. Vasquez also impressed when he came off the bench and really showed coach John Anastasiadis that he is ready to challenge for a starting eleven spot.
Leading the midfield will be Fernando, with the Brazilian maestro in sublime form last weekend, scoring a double (including a fantastic free kick) and playing a major hand in most of South’s attacking forays. The staggering fact though was that Fernando is still not fully fit, yet his performance against Suburbs was likened to his 2006 season where he tore the entire competition apart with ease.
In defence, South will be lead by the experienced Sam Poutakidis, who was regarded by many as the best player on the field last week against Suburbs as he returned to his natural right back position. The former Oakleigh veteran would no doubt be very keen to tackle his former club and be a part of a South side that takes all three points away from Jack Edwards Reserve for the first time since 2005.
Joining Poutakidis in defence will be Rama Tavsancioglu and Steve O’Dor, whilst the other position in the back four will be either filled by Adam Van Dommele or Shane Nunes, both of whom played last week with mixed results.
Oakleigh on the other hand have a fairly new squad from last year, with the Cannons acquiring some very good and hard working players to compliment some of the quality already on their list. The Cannons have had a relatively good start to season 2008, with two draws in their opening two games and then an excellent 0-1 win against Coburg United.
Defensively, South need to get past former Melbourne Knights goalkeeper Adrian Cagalj, who has returned to the Cannons for his second stint at the club. Just in front of Cagalj, the Cannons will be relying on the experience of captain Felix Rosman, who combined with the Drakos brothers will provide a tough and hard defensive unit to break down.
The midfield area for the Cannons is likely to be made up of an abundance of former South Melbourne players, with the middle third likely to be controlled by Bill Damianos. Bill is highly regarded in Victorian football and is considered as being one of the best central midfielders in the state. He played juniors with South before breaking into the senior side in 1994 and racking up 107 games for the club in the six seasons he spent in the senior side. A former championship winner with the club in the NSL and a player with European experience, Damianos will be the key in this contest and South will go a long way in winning this contest should they be able to shut down Damianos’ influence.
In that midfield area, Damianos will be joined by other former South players in Scott MacNicol and Trent Waterson, both of whom shone at VPL level at South, before leaving the club to join the Cannons.
The striking duties will be expected to be carried out by another former South player in Tex Aposolikas and veteran Juan Nilo, with the former Gippsland Falcons player eager to score against South Melbourne once again.
All fans are encouraged to get along and soak up the energetic derby atmosphere, as well as to get behind the team against a difficult opponent in the Foxtel Cup competition.
South Melbourne FC vs Oakleigh Cannons
When: Friday, March 7th
Where: Jack Edwards Reserve, Oakleigh
Kick-off: 8.30pm (Under 21s at 6.30pm)
Projected Starting line-ups
Adrian Cagalj (GK), Adam Ewin, Stelios Drakos, Aristidis Drakos, Felix Rosman, Jonathon Munoz, Trent Waterson, Scott MacNicol, Bill Damianos, Tex Apostolikas, Juan Nilo,
Dean Anastasiadis (GK), Sam Poutakidis, Rama Tavsancioglou, Adam Van Dommele, Steve O’dor, Tony La Verde, Bill Natsioulas, Goran Zoric, Fernando De Moraes, Hamlet Armenian, Gianni De Nittis
Head to head (Games since 2005)
Played : 6
Oakleigh : 3
South Melbourne : 2
Draw : 1
When: Friday, 27 July 2007
Where: Bob Jane Stadium
Score: South Melbourne 5 def Oakleigh Cannons 2
Form in 2008 (last 3 games)
Oakleigh: Draw, Draw, Win
South: Loss, Loss, Win