South Melbourne FC travels to Paisley Park for the first time in over five years to face the Altona Magic in the Fifth Round of Westfield FFA Cup qualifying tonight.
Altona Magic were relegated from the old Victorian Premier League (now the NPL Victoria) in 2010 but are five-time VPL Champions (1995, 1996, 1997, 2008 and 2009) and regularly featured in the final series when they were in Victorian football’s top flight.
Many former VPL/NPL players are currently on the playing roster at the Magic, including Antony Loncaric, Ben Clarke, Jason Hayne, Slave Bozinovski (all ex-VPL), plus Benji Vahid, James Stefanou, Jonathan Munoz and Marinos Gasparis (all ex-South). With so many former VPL players now playing for them in State League One, it is little wonder that Altona have won their opening three league matches in 2016. Their most recent result was a 1-0 away victory against Banyule City on Saturday, however this came at a cost as striker Jon McShane received a red card and therefore misses the cup tie.
South coach Chris Taylor will most likely make some adjustments to his side that comfortably defeated the Oakleigh Cannons 4-1 in NPL Victoria action on Sunday evening. There may be opportunities given to Zaim Zeneli, Stephen Hatzikostas, Amadu Koroma, Chris Irwin, Luke Eyles and Philtzgerald Mbaka for a starting berth. Iqi Jawadi may finally return from injury and Andy Kecojevic did his chances of a recall to the first team no harm with a hat-trick in South’s Under 20s match against Oakleigh on Sunday.
Prior to returning to State League football in 2005, South had played against Altona several times in Dockerty Cup matches or in the old National Youth League competition and was reasonably successful. Since 2005, Altona Magic and South Melbourne have met 15 times for eight South wins, six Altona wins and one draw. Altona had the upper hand during home & away matches (six wins in 12 meetings) but South were superior in the finals, with a perfect three wins from three against Altona – all in 2006 – including the Grand Final victory (1-0) in September of that year.
The last meeting between the two sides was on 4 July 2010 at John Cain Reserve. Steve O’Dor scored two headed goals after 45 and 49 minutes, then Kyle Joryeff finished off the scoring on 83 minutes as South defeated Altona 3-1. Magic were relegated from the VPL at the end of the 2010 season and have been out of Victorian football’s top flight since then. Interestingly, South never won at Paisley Park between 2005 and 2010.
Tonight’s match kicks off at 7:30pm at Paisley Park. If the match is drawn, two 15-minute periods of extra time will be played, with penalties to decide the winner if the match is still level after extra time.