South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Match Preview: SMFC v Whittlesea Zebras

Match Preview: SMFC v Whittlesea Zebras

Thursday, 25 June 2009 12:46 PM

By John Kyrou

South Melbourne FC hosts the Whittlesea Zebras on Sunday afternoon in a match that the club is promoting as the Foundation Round. The match is important for the home side as South simply must win to continue to hold onto second place on the league table. However this will not be made easy against a Zebras side that will be pushing for the three points to help drag itself out of relegation danger.

South sits in second position in the league but has a huge chasing pack behind it, with only four points separating second from eighth. Although South has lost only once in 13 matches, too many draws have allowed Altona, Sunshine George Cross, Green Gully, Hume City and Heidelberg to catch up to them.

With some of these sides likely to take points off each other on the weekend (Hume plays league leaders Dandenong and Altona plays Heidelberg), a win on Sunday could potentially give South some breathing space in second spot, which will be handy considering some of the tricky fixtures coming up.

South enters the match following a disappointing 1-1 away draw against the Melbourne Knights last Sunday and after missing many excellent opportunities to win the match. However what was promising was the almost flawless first half performance, in which Joseph Youssef, Sebastian Petrovic, Steven O’Dor and Sam Torrens performed exceptionally well. Youssef’s 19th minute goal was his fourth goal for South in what has so far been an excellent debut season at Lakeside for the former Fawkner Blues captain. The workman-like performances in midfield by Youssef and Petrovic this season has been what the side has been missing for the past few years and the side will be looking for more of these efforts on Sunday afternoon.

Whittlesea have not had much to cheer about in 2009, with the side sitting in deep relegation trouble. The 2-1 loss away to Oakleigh last Friday night means that the Zebras sit a massive 13 points clear of safety with only seven games left. Relegation could be confirmed as early as the next round if Whittlesea does not beat South and other results don’t go their way. Therefore the away side, coached by legendary former South player and coach Ange Postecoglou, will no doubt be fired up to take the three points from Michael Michalakopoulos’ men on Sunday.

South has a long history of playing against Whittlesea, who have gone by the names of Brunswick Juventus and Bulleen Zebras in the past and in fact still trade by the name Juventus. The sides have been battling since the 1961 Victorian State League (now the Victorian Premier League) season. In the first meeting between the clubs, two goals from Barbazza and singles from Acunzo and Pagotto were enough for Juventus to comprehensively defeat South Melbourne Hellas 4-1 at Olympic Park in front of 8,500 spectators. Savvas Salapasidis was the lone scorer for South.

South edged on top in the rivalry stakes the following season when it pipped Juventus for the 1962 VSL championship by winning the league by two points. When the two sides clashed in round 14, Boulis Kambouropoulos’ winning goal for South was witnessed by over 20,000 spectators at Olympic Park. Crowds were regularly between the 10,000 to 15,000 mark when the two sides clashed throughout the 1960s.

In 1966, South began the league season with two losses. Former Greek international Con Nestorides made his debut for the club against Juventus in round three and the legendary forward’s winning goal was celebrated by over 20,000 spectators at Middle Park. The result kick-started South’s march towards being crowned VSL champions that season. The two sides did not meet in the later stages of a Cup competition until Jim Armstrong’s 119th minute goal was enough for South to see off Juventus 2-1 in the semi final of the Dockerty Cup in 1975 after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

In their first meeting in the National Soccer League, goals by Gary Ward and Kevin Swinscoe were enough for Juve to overcome South 2-1 at Olympic Park in front of 12,000. Paul Lewis scored a consolation goal for South four minutes from time. The following season, South won the Minor Premiership by four points over Juve but was stunned when Paul Wade scored in extra time to defeat the Middle Park outfit in the Major Semi Final. South crashed out against Preston the week after while Brunswick went on to win the championship by defeating Sydney City Hakoah 2-0 over two legs.

Juve dropped out of the NSL in 1988 but returned in the 1993/94 season before dropping out again in 1994/95. South won all four league contests in those two seasons, including a devastating 0-6 victory in round 12 of 1994/95. In the second last round of the season, South needed to beat Brunswick at Olympic Park to keep its finals hopes alive. Steve Panopoulos’ goal in the 14th minute helped land South a spot in the top six.

Overall, the two sides have played each other in 55 league matches. South has won on 23 occasions, with 17 draws and 15 wins for Juventus. Since returning to the VPL, South has played Bulleen/Whittlesea eight times for 5 wins, 2 draws and a loss.

For the Foundation Round on Sunday afternoon, South Melbourne FC will be wearing the red V playing shirt. These were the colours worn by the side that played Juventus in front of huge crowds in the early 1960s. South fans are strongly encouraged to attend to lend their support to the team. Kick-off is at 4pm at Bob Jane Stadium.

South Melbourne vs Whittlesea Zebras – An Overview

First VPL match:

Round 4, 1961
Brunswick Juventus 4-1 South Melbourne
(SMFC Goal: Savvas Salapasidis)
Venue: Olympic Park. Attendance: 8,500.

First NSL match:

Round 6, 1984
Brunswick Juventus 2-1 South Melbourne
(SMFC Goal: Paul Lewis)
Venue: Olympic Park no. 2. Attendance: 12,000.

Last NSL match:

Round 25, 1994/95
South Melbourne 1-0 Brunswick Juventus
(SMFC Goal: Steve Panopoulos)
Venue: Olympic Park. Attendance: 5,000.

Last VPL match:

Round 5, 2009
Whittlesea Zebras 1-3 South Melbourne
(SMFC Goals: Goran Zoric, Gianni De Nittis, Fernando De Moraes)
Venue: Bob Jane Stadium. Attendance: 500.

Total Games (League): 55
South Melbourne Wins: 23
Whittlesea Zebras Wins: 15
Draws: 17

Highest Aggregate Score:

Round 12, 1994/95 NSL
Brunswick Juventus 0-6 South Melbourne
(SMFC Goals: Con Boutsianis x2, Jason Polak, Ivan Kelic, Paul Trimboli, OG)
Venue: Olympic Park. Attendance: 4,000.

SMFC Biggest Win:

Round 12, 1994/95 NSL
Brunswick Juventus 0-6 South Melbourne
(SMFC Goals: Con Boutsianis x2, Jason Polak, Ivan Kelic, Paul Trimboli, OG)
Venue: Olympic Park. Attendance: 4,000.

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