Saturday, 22 March 2008 11:04 AM
By George Kouroumalis
After a 17 day break, South Melbourne will be keen to return to the Foxtel Cup action on Easter Monday as it hosts the league leading AIS side at Bob Jane Stadium.
South will go into the game confident of getting a result, even though results wise the club is struggling this season with only one victory from their opening four fixtures, with the most recent result being a 1-0 loss away to Oakleigh. However South’s confidence going into the AIS fixture will come out of the team’s performance against Oakleigh, as South dominated all over the park but struggled to convert their chances in front of goal.
South coach John Anastasiadis will not be expected to make many changes to the starting line-up, with the only change likely to be to the back four. Ramazan Tavsancioglu is expected to return, after sitting out the Oakleigh game due to a family commitment. ‘Rama’ will most certainly be replacing Steven O’Dor, with the big central defender set to be sitting out this week’s match after being sent off against the Cannons.
South will once again rely on Hamlet Armenian and Gianni De Nittis up front, with experienced duo Ricky Diaco and Nathan Caldwell also staking a claim for a first eleven position. All four will be looking forward to pressing forward against the AIS on the Bob Jane Stadium field, where in the last outing they had a field day against Western Suburbs, netting goals galore and creating many opportunities.
South will however be without youngster Yusuf Yusuf, with the young winger succumbing to a horrific knee injury against the Cannons. Yusuf, who had his knee taken from underneath him, suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament and will be expected to miss twelve months of first team football as he recovers.
With his absence, South will most likely commence the game with the same midfield quartet as against Oakleigh, with young Antonio La Verde impressing in his two appearances in the centre of the park for his new club. With the experienced Fernando and Bill Natsioulas around him, coupled by the inclusion of the elusive Goran Zoric in the midfield area, South will be keen on dominating play throughout the entire middle third.
The AIS will be no pushovers, with the Canberra based side possessing a squad that is filled by some of the most talented footballers in the country. This talent has shone throughout their opening four games so far this year, with the AIS currently undefeated and only one point off the top of the table.
In order for South to win the game they must contain two very high credentialed youngsters in Jason Naidovski and Kofi Danning, who so far this year have both had stellar performances against highly rated opposition.
Naidovski is considered one of the brightest prospects that Australian football has to offer, with the 18 year old striker already representing his nation at U17, U19 and U23 level, as well as being a train-on player with A-League franchise Sydney FC. A hard worker and quality finisher, Naidovski has buried 6 goals in his side’s opening four games, which includes scoring in every game thus far.
With an A-League call-up for next season a possibility, Naidovski will be keen to keep up his goal scoring record and prove he deserves to be playing at national level. Should South shut Naidovski and strike partner Danning down, they will go a long way towards winning the match.
South reminds all fans, members and the general public that Monday is Ladies Day at Bob Jane Stadium, with all females admitted to the game for free, whilst a BBQ will also be provided for all ladies and 2008 club members. The match kicks off at 4pm.
South Melbourne FC vs AIS
When: Monday, March 24th
Where: Bob Jane Stadium
Kick-off: 4pm (Under 21s at 1.45pm)
Projected Starting line-ups
Mark Birghitti (GK), Daniel Mullen, Dane Milovanovic, Richard Greer, Alexander Sunasky, Luke Devere, Kofi Danning, Jason Naidovski, Daniel Taylor, Howard Fondyke, Ante Cicak
Dean Anastasiadis (GK), Sam Poutakidis, Rama Tavsancioglou, Adam Van Dommele, Shane Nunes, Tony La Verde, Bill Natsioulas, Goran Zoric, Fernando De Moraes, Hamlet Armenian, Gianni De Nittis
Head to head (Games since 2005)
Played : 1
AIS : 0
South Melbourne : 1
Draw : 0
When: Sunday, 6 May 2007
Where: Bob Jane Stadium
Score: South Melbourne 2 def AIS 1
Form in 2008 (last 3 games)
South: Loss, Win, Loss
AIS: Win, Win, Draw