Peter Desira, Herald Sun
Wednesday, 12 February 2003
South Melbourne is an average team and a mere shadow of its recent great sides, according to newly arrived Melbourne Knights coach Mirko Bazic.
Bazic, nursing a flu virus after arriving from Croatia last Thursday, forced himself out of bed to run the rule over South on Sunday.
South visits the Knights this weekend and Bazic came away confident his side could get a result after watching Adelaide City defeat South 2-1.
“I was a little bit disappointed with the game,” Bazic said. “I now have a better picture.
“I suppose that when I was here seven or eight years ago, South Melbourne was playing better soccer than now.”
Bazic heaped praise on Adelaide, saying it had played the better tactical game and been better organised defensively.
Pressed on South, he said: “I think South Melbourne is an average team. They may make the six but it’s no certainty. From the little I have seen, I think Olympic, Perth, Newcastle and Adelaide City are better.
“Of course, it’s different when they play us. They are always a danger against us,” Bazic said in reference to the intense rivalry between the clubs.
The Knights have the worst defensive record in the NSL but Bazic saw nothing to fear from South’s forward line. “They have good players, but nothing special,” he said.
Bazic has scheduled seven training sessions this week, including two mornings, and looks set to recall strikers Anthony Pelikan and Leon Buhic for Sunday’s derby.
Pelikan is the Knights’ top scorer with nine goals, but he has missed four of the past six matches because of a slight hamstring tear.
“He practised on Saturday and he looked good. We will see if there is a reaction, but I’m expecting him to be in the first 11,” Bazic said.
Buhic has found it hard to adjust to Australian soccer after arriving from Croatia with a big reputation and has been overlooked for the past three matches.
Before the derby, South plays its last home game of the season tonight against Brisbane Strikers in a match brought forward from March because Bob Jane Stadium won’t be available on the grand prix weekend.