2024 NPL Round 14 – OG Melbourne Derby

The Original Melbourne Derby has found its way back to Somers St at the official halfway point of season 2024.

Croatia and Hellas go head-to-head for the third time this season, after facing off against each other in the NPL and Australia Cup, with the Knights suffering defeat on both occasions.

In big news for the Knights, the Head Coach position has finally been filled, handed to Ivan Franjic, who has been in the role of player/coach since Ben Surey’s departure. Speaking on his appointment Franjic mused that he ‘was extremely excited to take on the role for the rest of the season’ and was ‘honoured to be given the opportunity to lead the Club’.

With the Knights finding some form over the past two weeks under Franjic as caretaker coach, the side is excited to test themselves against ladder-leader South Melbourne FC.

The side’s respective seasons could not be more opposite. South Melbourne find themselves in the top spot, sitting high on the ladder with 32 points. South have only lost one game (10 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss), which was earlier this month against third-placed Avondale FC, meaning, under Franjic’s leadership, the Knights will need to be at their very best to go head-to-head with South Melbourne.

South’s goals seem to be coming from two players – Harrison Sawyer and Nahuel Bondada, who each have 12 and 8 goals to their names respectively.

South have also been able to punish teams, scoring 5 against Manningham, 4 against Altona Magic, 4 against Dandy City and 4 against Dinamo.

The last time the two sides faced off in the NPL, South, in classic fashion scraped, through with a 1-0 win back in Round 1. More recently, the Knights and South drew each other in the opening round for NPL teams of the Australia Cup, which saw South knock the Knights out at home after a 2-0 win.

While there is always an element of luck in Derby matches, under Franjic’s tutelage, the side’s recent performances have been reminiscent of a 2023 Knights outfit and the side has had their fair share of luck in these matches, remembering Gian Albano’s buzzer-beater goal against South back in 2022.

With focus and a bit of lady luck shining on the side, the Knights could be in the front seat to hand South Melbourne their second defeat of the season. The future looks bright under the leadership of Franjic and it’s an exciting time for the club, both on and off the field, as a fan, member and player.

The Knights need our support to cheer them on as they push for a finals berth, so get behind the team week in and week out like they do for their supporters! And what better way to kick off this new chapter than against our oldest rivals. Looking forward to seeing you cheer on the side in the second half of the season.

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