What we learned from Socceroos v FYR Macedonia

​Iain Strachan assesses Australia's frustrating 0-0 draw with FYR Macedonia in Skopje on Tuesday morning (AEDT). He says the performance of midfielder Oliver Bozanic was one positive to come out of a dire affair.

Scratchy start matched the occasion   Ange Postecoglou and his captain Mile Jedinak insisted prior to the game Australia's focus wouldn't drop for the second of their two European friendlies.   The coach must have anticipated a natural come down from the high of tackling world champions Germany at a packed Fritz-Walter-Stadion to the less inspiring prospect of a run-out against Bosko Gjurovski's men.   It may have been laundry night in Skopje, or locals were voting with their feet after four losses and just one win in qualifying for Euro 2016.   Either way, the empty seats, running track and mournful peep of scattered vuvuzelas at the Philip II Arena served to negate whatever determination and intent the men in green and gold had hoped to demonstrate.    Socceroos held in frustrating draw   Socceroos enjoy spells of control   An untidy opening to the game gave way to a period of possession and decent passing exchanges from the visitors.   Australia couldn't create many noteworthy opportunities, Nathan Burns' shot straight at the goalkeeper from a position of space inside the area perhaps the best chance of the first half.   And while Macedonia occasionally mounted some half-hearted counter-attacks, it was the Socceroos who controlled proceedings and showed more intent.    Their exploits in the Former Yugoslav Republic won't live too long in the memory, but the sight of Postecoglou's men dictating terms away from home against European opposition was a welcome one.  
The Socceroos were held to a 0-0 draw against FYR Macedonia in Skopje.
  Newcomers solid with room for improvement   Making his first start under Postecoglou, Aaron Mooy grew into the game and did his best work mid-way through the first half, before being withdrawn on 62 minutes.   The Melbourne City player demonstrated plenty of movement, won possession back on several occasions and created a half-chance with a tidy turn and reverse pass down the left.   Tarek Elrich, making his debut, got forward regularly at right-back but rarely had the opportunity to cross.    The Adelaide United man got caught out once or twice but such is the lot of a modern, attacking fullback.    Fortunately, nothing came of it when Macedonia did find a man in space down their left flank.   Bailey Wright was relatively untroubled but certainly did nothing wrong at the back after replacing Trent Sainsbury, while Chris Ikonomidis' introduction came too late for the Lazio junior to make a meaningful contribution.  
Aaron Mooy could be in line for a start against FYR Macedonia.
  Forwards struggle to impose themselves   Lacking options in attack, Postecoglou stuck with the same trio of attacking players who started in Kaiserslautern last week.   James Troisi had a hand in one or two decent moves, Burns missed a good opportunity to score and Mathew Leckie was his usual willing self without getting into many dangerous situations.   In the second half, Tommy Oar and Tomi Juric were introduced but they didn't fare any better.    The run to Asian Cup glory looked to have heralded the dawn of a post-Tim Cahill era in which the Socceroos will be able to score freely without their talisman.   This game though was a regression to the bluntness of recent times, when the national team, without the veteran marksman in their ranks, looked like they could play for a year and still not find the back of the net.    Having bagged two against the World Cup winners just five days previously, let's hope the bore draw in Skopje was just a blip.   Bozanic's energy catches the eye   Oliver Bozanic made a real impression when he came on for Mark Bresciano against the Netherlands in the World Cup, so it's a little surprising the Luzern midfielder has spent so long outside the green and gold set-up since the tournament in Brazil.   The former Central Coast Mariner, called up for these friendlies as Cahill's replacement, was perhaps the liveliest of Australia's players in a sluggish contest.   Coming on for captain Mile Jedinak in the second half, the 26-year-old operated in a deeper role than we've seen him in before, but he moved across the pitch with an intensity that was sorely lacking from players on both sides.   With Massimo Luongo's all-action, box-to-box efforts in the Asian Cup now the model for the midfielders deployed ahead of Jedinak, the versatile and energetic Bozanic should be considered as a regular option going forward.