Friday, 26 March 2010 10:05 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC faces arguably its toughest challenge thus far in 2010 when the side travels to George Andrews Reserve to face the Dandenong Thunder on Saturday evening in a match that will hopefully rival the corresponding fixture played in 2009.
South will enter the game on the back of its first win of the season following the 2-1 home win over Green Gully last Sunday. Undefeated in 2010 and with six points from its opening four matches, the Blues are sitting in the top five of the VPL ladder. In contrast and somewhat surprisingly, Dandenong have only one solitary win from their opening four matches. Last week, the Thunder opened the scoring away against Oakleigh but lost 3-1, leaving the team in ninth spot on the VPL table.
Despite the slow start by Dandenong this season, they have shown in the past that they are no pushovers and no easy beats. The Thunder had an outstanding 2009 season, where they won the Minor Premiership but tragically lost the Grand Final on a penalty shootout. In the corresponding match last year, Dandenong cruised to a 2-0 home lead before 2 goals in two minutes by Fernando De Moraes and Goran Zoric saw the match end in an exciting 2-2 draw.
Dandenong’s two other home matches in 2010 have seen them beat the Melbourne Knights 2-1 and lose 0-3 to Richmond in what was seen as a shock defeat. Despite this loss, George Andrews Reserve has been a fortress for the Thunder in recent years and the South players will need to play extremely well to win the three points on Saturday. The Blues will not be helped with Joseph Youssef’s injury last weekend, coupled with the fact that several other players are nursing knocks from the Green Gully match. These include Carl Recchia, James Stefanou and Marinos Gasparis.
The key players for the away side this weekend will be Peter Zois, Daniel Vasilevski and Fernando De Moraes, who have all been outstanding throughout the pre-season and opening four rounds of the VPL season. Zois made a double-save at the weekend to ensure South won all three points, whilst the midfield combination of Vasilevski and Fernando has seen both players net all of South’s seven goals in the League this season. If Zois can hold his defence firm on Saturday and the De Moraes-Vasilevski show rolls on, South will give itself every possible chance to overcome the Thunder.
The match kicks off at 7pm on Saturday evening at George Andrews Reserve.