Friday, 5 April 2013 11:38 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC opens the 2013 Victorian Premier League season on Saturday when Peter Tsolakis’ side travel to Green Gully Reserve to play Green Gully. South will be attempting to break a 27 year hoodoo at the ground, having not won there since 1986.
South heads into the match on the back of positive pre-season friendly results, with victories against Port Melbourne, Heidelberg United, Altona Magic and Northcote City in recent weeks. The side also finished the 2012 Premier League season strongly and are now undefeated in three League matches.
Coach Peter Tsolakis has kept the majority of his squad from last season, with the departures being Kyle Joryeff (released during last season), Gianni De Nittis (released during last season), Jason Trifiro (Western Sydney), Glen Trifiro (Sydney United), Jason Saldaris (returned to Perth) and Steve Burton (returned to Perth). Former Captain Steven O’Dor retired from football due to professional work commitments and has been replaced by Luke Byles as Captain. New additions to the squad for 2013 are Queenslanders Rhys Meredith and Tyson Holmes, Alan Kearney (Southern Stars), Carl Recchia (Moreland Zebras), Renco Van Eeken ( Netherlands ) and Sebastian Mattei (Melbourne Heart Youth). Furthermore, a number of players have been promoted from the Under 21 side to the Senior Team, those being Andrew Cartanos, Phil Petreski, James Karvelis, Baggio Yousif, Matko Budimir and Anthony Giannopoulos.
It is well documented that one of South’s bogey grounds is Green Gully Reserve, a venue that South have not experienced a victory in since 8 September 1986. On that day, goals from Bobby Russell and Manny Anezakis gave South a 0-2 victory. South has not defeated Green Gully at that venue since returning to the Victorian Premier League in 2005. In fact South has only managed two points from a possible 24 and this does not even include the penalty shoot-out loss against Gully in the Major Semi Final in 2005. In further bad news, South has only scored five times at Green Gully Reserve since that win in 1986. In the corresponding fixture last season on Saturday 14 April 2012, South took an early lead via an own goal before Gully overpowered South for a 3-1 victory.
South Melbourne will be without the services of Carl Recchia who will be missing for the entire year after a bad knee injury sustained during pre-season. Dimi Tsiaras is also suspended following his red card against Bentleigh Greens in the second-last round last season. Kearney will most likely be deployed as a makeshift defensive midfielder in Tsiaras’ absence. Apart from those two, Tsolakis has a full squad to choose from going into the match. A positive that South can take into the game is the fact that Gully traditionally start the Victorian Premier League season slowly before asserting their authority later in the year; Saturday could be the ideal opportunity to take advantage of this and at the same time break the hoodoo. Another positive is that Roddy Vargas – a player that always plays so well against South for Gully – is suspended for this weekend’s match.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3:00PM at Green Gully Reserve.
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