Australia and Serbia draw in friendly

Australia and Serbia played out an entertaining scoreless draw on Tuesday in the second friendly in a week for both teams.

Serbia and Australia had plenty of opportunities to score at the Docklands stadium, which had its roof closed for the night to keep out the Melbourne rain.

”The entertainment factor was definitely given, but I am not happy because our game lacked a little of the fluid passing I would like to see, and at times we made the wrong decision,” Australia coach Holger Osieck said. ”On the other hand, I think our team showed a great deal of effort again.

”Basically I got a lot more positives than negatives,” the German added. ”But I am always looking for perfection. It’s not possible, but you should never give up trying.”

Serbia coach Vladimir Petrovic praised his team’s performance, especially that of the younger players.

”I’m very happy with Radosav Petrovic for example,” the coach said via a translator. ”He has looked good the last couple of games and will be part of our top 11 when we play for points, and he’s only 22.”

Serbia lost 2-1 to South Korea in a friendly at Seoul on Friday, while Australia beat New Zealand at Adelaide on Sunday.

Australia beat Serbia 2-1 at last year’s World Cup in South Africa, where neither team progressed past the group stage.

Australia, captained by Galatasaray’s Lucas Neill, was again without regulars Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The Australians had a chance in the fifth minute when Michael Zullo outpaced several defenders before centering the ball to midfielder Matthew McKay, who’s shot went wide.

Serbia had a chance presented five minutes later with a penalty just outside the box, but Adem Ljajic’s spot kick failed to find the goal. Then, in the 16th minute, midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic narrowly missed with a powerful strike just outside the area.

Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak’s penalty attempt in the 29th looked dangerous, but was stopped by Serbia keeper Damir Kahriman. Kahriman was forced to make another save in the 37th when Jedinak found space in front of goal, and again when Brett Holman fired in a low strike in the 44th.

Midfielder Adem Ljajic squandered one of the better chances when he gathered a pass unmarked in front of the Australian goal, but lofted his shot over the crossbar.

Serbia winger Zoran Tosic threatened in the first minute after the break when he eluded the defense to find himself unmarked in the box, only to have the ball plucked from his feet by Australian keeper Adam Federici in the first of four excellent saves.

”I’m always happy when you keep a clean sheet. It’s nice to get a bit of game time,” Federici said. ”Performances like that will hopefully keep me in the team.”

Midfielder Brett Holman came close twice more in the second half – shooting over the bar in the 61st and fading left of the upright three minutes later.

Australia midfielder Matthew McKay had a shot from inside the Serbia box stopped in the 79th and substitute Dragan Mrdja had a chance go wide for Serbia with two minutes remaining in regulation as both teams, looking visibly tired, took every opportunity to try and break the deadlock.