Peter Desira, Herald Sun
Monday, 10 February 2003
Melbourne Knights will make a significant change in formation and step up work on their defence under new coach Mirko Bazic.
Bazic has come down with a virus after pushing himself to go with the Knights to Newcastle the day after he arrived on a 29-hour flight from sub-zero temperatures in Croatia.
But the 64-year-old soldiered through and made the tactical changes which helped the Knights to a 1-1 draw on Friday night against high-riding Newcastle United.
“We played better in the second half,” Bazic said.
“We had problems with our two stoppers (Antun Kovacic and Daniel Piorkowski),” Bazic said.
“They are good but they are young and inexperienced. I switched Vinko Buljubasic to stopper and we looked much better in the second half.”
Buljubasic, out of favour with previous coach Andrew Marth, made his first start of the season, playing at rightback in the first half before the switch.
Seventeen-year-old Bill Natsioulas was sent on to take over the rightback duties in the second half.
“We played 3-5-2 because that’s what the team is used to, but the modern system (in Europe) is now 4-4-2 and I want to try to switch us to that in the next few weeks,” Bazic said.
“The most important is that we must improve our defence line. The team has conceded 43 goals and has the worst defensive record in the league.”
On Friday, the Knights fell behind to a Peter Tsekenis goal after 31 minutes, but drew level with a penalty converted by Gustavo Biscayzacu after the Uruguayan was pushed in the area by Steve Eagleton.
Newcastle coach Ian Crook exchanged words in the tunnel with referee Matthew Breeze over the penalty which he described as a “tough one to swallow”.
Bazic agreed with the referee’s decision.
“It was a hundred per cent penalty. The player pushed Gustavo in the box and the referee was 10m away — he saw it clearly,” Bazic said.
The match was Biscayzacu’s last before he flies out today to join Union Espanola in Chile.
“We lose him and there is nothing I can do about that now,” Bazic said.
“But I have (Anthony) Pelikan and Henry (Fa’Arodo) and (Leon) Buhic and I am confident we will have a good forward line.”
Bazic has always been keen on players with pace and has predicted a bright future for Solomon Islander Fa’Arodo, who is the fastest player in the squad.
But Bazic pointed to Rody Vargas as the Knights’ best player for his sweeping role against Newcastle.
Bazic ordered his full squad to attend South Melbourne’s match against Adelaide City yesterday in preparation for this week’s derby against at Knights Stadium.
“If I see them play, I can look at what they do good and what they do bad,” Bazic said.