Thursday, 18 August 2011 9:32 AM
South Melbourne FC travel to Jack Edwards Reserve to face Oakleigh Cannons in the Minor Semi Final on Sunday evening in what is shaping up to being a fantastic encounter.
Oakleigh will go into the match with their pride wounded after giving up a 3-2 lead to lose 3-4 against Hume City in the dying minutes last Sunday night. That loss cost Oakleigh the opportunity to play Green Gully in the Major Semi Final and potentially move straight into the Grand Final, with Hume now given that opportunity. Instead Oakleigh will play a cut-throat knockout game against South, who come into the game with three wins and a draw from their last four matches, This includes a 1-0 Elimination Final victory against old rivals Heidelberg United last Sunday afternoon, where Jesse Krncevic converted his penalty and Zaim Zeneli turned from zero to hero instantly when he gave away a penalty before making a double-save to help win the game.
South nearly has a full-strength squad to choose from, with the exceptions being defender Steven Topalovic who was badly injured against the Bergers and Sebastian Petrovic who was sent off and will miss at least one match. Coach Eddie Krncevic has in recent weeks finally had the luxurious headache of having most of his players available for selection and it comes as no surprise that the team has produced excellent results over the last month. Krncevic had so many options available that fan favourite Fernando De Moraes did not even feature off the bench against the Bergers and Marinos Gasparis did not even make the squad.
In effect, South has already played four Elimination Finals to get to Sunday’s match, so another elimination game against Oakleigh should not faze the team. South should be even further boosted about the fact that it has already done the double over the Cannons in 2011, with a 2-1 victory at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday 18 March before Carl Recchia’s overhead goal won the return game at John Cain Memorial Park on Sunday 19 June. More importantly, South has played quite well at Jack Edwards Reserve since entering the VPL in 2005, registering three wins and two draws from 7 matches.
Despite South’s good record against Oakleigh, the home team should not be taken lightly. The Cannons are currently still alive in the Mirabella Cup and also enjoyed a solid 2011 Premier League season under Arthur Pappas where it finished in second spot with a double-chance, which came in handy following the loss against Hume last week. Oakleigh boasts a wealth of experienced players both at State and National level, with Ricky Diaco, James Robinson, Ari Drakos, Rama Tavsancioglu and Peter Zois to name a few. Diaco has been rumoured to have picked up an injury against Hume and may miss Sunday’s match against his former club, but there is no doubt that former players Tavsancioglu and Zois will feature.
The match kicks off at 18:00 on Sunday evening at Jack Edwards Reserve. The loser will be eliminated from the 2011 finals series whilst the winner will go on to face the loser of the Major Semi Final between Green Gully and Hume City next weekend.