Friday, 18 May 2012 10:06 AM
South Melbourne FC hosts the Melbourne Knights on Sunday afternoon in what is the first derby between the two sides in 2012. The match has added significance as only two weeks have passed since the 21st anniversary of a game played between the two sides that defined their strong footballing rivalry.
Last Friday night, South enjoyed a win at Epping Stadium, triumphing 0-1 against Hume City thanks to captain Steven O’Dor’s winning goal after 87 minutes. The win consolidated South’s position in the top five and has given the Club a platform in which to kick-start its season. Last Sunday afternoon, the Melbourne Knights suffered a surprise 1-2 loss at home against cellar dwellers Heidelberg United. The victory lifted the Bergers out of the relegation zone at the Knights’ expense.
Sunday’s derby will be played only two weeks after the 21 year anniversary of the famous 1990/91 National Soccer League Grand Final, played on 5 May 1991 at Olympic Park in Melbourne. A crowd of 23,318 saw Andrew Marth’s opening goal for Minor Premiers Melbourne Croatia cancelled out by Joe Palatsides’ 88th minute equalising goal. South nearly won the match in extra time with a Kimon Taliadoros header but the game was decided by penalties. Misses by Paul Trimboli, Mike Petersen and Palatsides gave Melbourne Croatia opportunities to win the match; however Alan Davidson and Mark Silic sensationally hit the post with their penalties. Both sides kept converting their penalties after that until Ivan Kelic skied his shot over the bar for Melbourne Croatia to amazingly hand South its second National League Championship. One of the great moments in South’s proud and distinguised history is the footage of world footballing legend (and South coach) Ferenc Puskas holding aloft the National Soccer League Championship with captain Ange Postecoglou.
Of concern for South in this weekend’s derby is the fact that O’Dor will most likely miss the game due to an hamstring injury sustained in the Hume match. In addition, the popular Fernando De Moraes will be missing after being selected to play for the Futsalroos in the 2012 Asian Futsal Championships in the United Arab Emirates. At this stage it is only likely that Fernando will miss two League matches (the Knights and Dandenong), however should the Futsalroos progress further he may miss another game (Northcote).
In more promising news, it is likely that the influential Joe Keenan will at least make the substitutes’ bench after he suffered an injury in the State Knockout Cup fourth round tie against Malvern City on 29 April. With South coach Peter Tsolakis featuring (and scoring many goals) against the Melbourne Knights in his playing days at the Club, he will no doubt be reminding his team about the historical importance of the derby fixture and of how vital it is that South gets the three points.
Sunday’s derby kicks off at 5:00PM at Lakeside Stadium.