Adam Federici watches a Dejan Stankovic Free kick fly past his post.
Australia 0 Serbia 0
Australia played Serbia at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night in the second of a couple of friendly matches in preparation for the next round of World Cup qualification.
Though no goals were scored there was a lot of high quality football from both teams, mixed with the odd howler.
The Socceroos began with Wilkshire, Neill, Ognenonvski and Zullo across the back, Emerton, Jedinak, Valeri and McKay in the middle and Holman and Thompson up front.
Early on the home team looked very sharp and had a couple of near things in the first few minutes, but then Serbia settled and retained possession for nearly ten minutes, with Dejan Stankovic having two long range efforts which went over. One was a free kick and the other was pushed clear by Adam Federici, who had an excellent game in goal, showing there is depth of talent among the keepers.
Mile Jedinak was trying his luck at every opportunity, bringing the keeper into action with a shot from distance, then hitting a wicked free kick which keeper Damir Khariman spilled.
Michael Zullo was injured in a tackle in 33 minutes, but resumed, then Brett Holman tried to chip the keeper and followed that with an excellent cut-back which Archie Thompson could just not convert.
Adem Ljajic should have done better for Serbia when he shot well over from directly in front of goal and inside the penalty area.
Brett Emerton set up Thompson then Holman but both final shots were too close to the keeper.
At half-time, Zullo was replaced by James Troisi, who had a very mixed second half. He put over a couple of excellent crosses and delivered a neat cushioned header to set up another opportunity, but several times he gave the ball away and failed to anticipate passes or to harry his direct opponent. He got some stick from his coach for that.
Zoran Tosic tormented the Socceroos with some wonderful close skills and runs, but like most of the cultured Serb play, it took place in front of the Australian defence.
A spate of substitutions saw Jon McKain, Dario Vidosic and Rhys Williams replace Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton and Luke Wilkshire, while Serbia also made three changes.
Robbie Kruse replaced Archie Thompson for the last 25 minutes and Neil Kilkenny came on for Jedinak for the final 15.
Troisi was put through in front of goal following a lovely move by Matt McKay and the irrepressible Holman, but the Turkish-based midfielder hit the ball straight at the keeper.
Not surprisingly the Serbs seemed to tire in the last fifteen minutes and Brett Holman came close again with a header from a McKay cross.
It was not surprising at the end of the game that Vladimir Petrovic was very complimentary about the standard of the Australian play.
Holger Osiek as always demanded more feeling that the passing sometimes lacked fluidity and players often chose the complicated rather than the simple option, allowing the Serbians to close down the man in possession.
But he did take several positives from the game, including the performances of the players who had come into the squad on this occasion. He objected to the notion that some of these were fringe players, stressing instead the depth they added to the pool which will challenge for the next World Cup. ‘We are not at the end of the road,’ he said. ‘We have enlarged the squad and there are others who may step up, including Luke de Vere,’ (currently with the Olyroos).
Overall it was an excellent hit out for the Socceroos, against a quality team, which drew a substantial proportion of the crowd of 28, 149. The group which filled the Victory end made as much noise and created as much atmosphere as the Blue and White supporters do at derby games, so it was a good night all round.
Match details (unofficial)
Australia 0 Serbia 0
Date: 7 June 2011
Competition: Friendly international
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30 pm
Referee: Minoru TOJO
Assistant Referees: Hideaki NISHIO and Akane YAGI
1 Adam FEDERICI; 2 Lucas NEILL (21 Jonathan MCKAIN 58’); 3 Michael ZULLO (11 James TROISI 46’); 4 Archie THOMPSON (23 Robbie KRUSE 66’); 6 Sasa OGNENOVSKI; 7 Brett EMERTON (22 Dario VIDOSIC 58’); 8 Luke WILKSHIRE (5 Rhys WILLIAMS 58’); 14 Brett HOLMAN; 15 Mile JEDINAK (19 Neil KILKENNY 75’);16 Carl VALERI; 17 Matt MCKAY.
Unused substitutes: 12 Mitchell LANGERACK; 9 Josh KENNEDY; 10 Alex BROSQUE; 13 Mark MILLIGAN; 18 Nathan COE; 20 Matthew SPRANOVIC.
Coach: Holger OSIEK
Yellow cards: Lucas Neill 56’; Mile JEDINAK 72’; Jon MCKAIN 85’.
Red cards: Nil
1 Damir KAHRIMAN, 5 Slobodan RAJKOVIC (20 Neven SUBOTIC 65’); 6 Nenad TOMOVIC(4 Milan BISEVAC 75’); 7 Zoran TOSIC (13 Marko MIRIC 92’); 8 Adem LJAJIC (21 Veseljko TRVUNOVIC 65’); 10 Dejan STANKOVIC (18 Branislav JOVANOVIC 84’); 11 Jovan DAMJANOVIC; 15 Radosav PETROVIC; 16 Ivan OBRADOVIC; 19 Milan VILOTIC; 22 Zdravko KUZMANOVIC (17 Ranko DESPOTOVIC 65’).
Coach: Vladimir PETROVIC
Unused substitutes: 3 Aleksander KOLAROV; 9 Brana ILIC; 12 Bojan SARANOV; 14 Dusan PETRONIJEVIC;
Yellow cards: Nenad TOMOVIC 45’
Red cards: Nil.