MELBOURNE - Australia had goalkeeper Adam
Federici to thank as they held on for a 0-0 draw against a
profligate Serbia in a friendly in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Federici, understudy to veteran keeper Mark Schwarzer, stood
firm as Serbia peppered the goals in a frantic second half in
front of a crowd of more than 28,000 on a chilly night at
In a rematch of last year's World Cup group-stage clash in
South Africa which Australia won 2-1, the Reading keeper dived
to his right to stop a blazing shot from Radosav Petrovic in the
83rd minute and then repeated the feat in stoppage-time.
Both teams fielded second-string sides in the tune-up for
the qualifying phase for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil starting
in September and would rue a number of missed scoring chances.
Serbia midfielder Adem Ljajic was perhaps the most guilty,
spraying a shot over the bar five minutes before the break after
finding himself clear on goal inside the box.
James Troisi missed the Socceroos' best chance to break the
deadlock when, having only the keeper to beat, he prodded a weak
shot into Damir Kahriman's arms in the 79th minute.
Australia coach Holger Osieck, who rested first-team
regulars Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Schwarzer, was pleased
with the effort of his fringe players but was left frustrated by
their lack of polish.
"I think I was not too happy, our game lacked a little bit
of the fluid passing... we played the complicated ball instead
of the simple ball," the German told reporters after recording
his ninth win from 14 matches since taking charge after the
"On the other hand, our team showed a great deal of effort
again... basically, I got a lot more positives than negatives."
The match drew a heavy security presence around the stadium
with concerns over crowd trouble following incidents involving
Serbian fans at the Australian Open tennis in recent years.
The match had to be paused for a minute in the second half
while staff extinguished one of a number of flares hurled near
the pitch from a boisterous Serbian contingent behind one of the
goals but otherwise passed without incident.
Australia, playing their second match in three days after
beating New Zealand 3-0 in Adelaide in a friendly on Sunday, had
a chance deflected away off Matt McKay in the fifth minute, but
were soon on the back foot.
A rough challenge on midfielder Zoran Tosic gave Serbia a
free-kick, with Ljajic sending his long-range effort just wide
of the far post six minutes later before VfB Stuttgart
midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic cannoned a 30-metre strike that
shaved the near post in the 16th minute.
Forward Brett Holman briefly ignited the home crowd's hopes
in the second half, finding space in front on the hour, but sent
the shot over the bar before blasting another wide a few minutes
The Socceroos appeared to tire in the final stages and
Serbia were denied by some desperate work from Federici who
bolstered his standing as the heir apparent to Schwarzer.
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