Bosnich turns goalscorer for Australians

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The Independent Online
The Aston Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich relieved his boredom by scoring a late penalty as Australia opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 13-0 rout of the Solomon Islands yesterday.

Bosnich, who barely touched the ball during the match, stepped up to complete the scoring with the last kick of an embarrassingly one-sided Oceania group game. Strikers Damian Mori and John Aloisi had by then scored five goals each.

The victory gave Terry Venables his sixth win in as many matches since taking over as Australian national coach late last year. "We were particularly efficient and our attitude was very good," the former England coach said. "Even when we were several goals up, we didn't try to be too clever or take the mickey."

Midfielders Ernie Tapai and Craig Foster also found the scoresheet for Australia, who are hosting all the matches in their qualifying group, which also includes Tahiti. It was Australia's highest score in an Oceania World Cup match, eclipsing their 10-0 drubbing of Fiji in 1981.

Australia and New Zealand are expected to qualify from their respective qualifying groups and would then face each other in an Oceania play-off over two legs in June and July. The winner will play an Asian opponent in a final two-leg qualifier later this year for a place in the 1998 World Cup in France.

Venables was cleared yesterday of any potential conflict of interest over the proposed transfers of three Socceroo internationals to his club, Portsmouth. Venables' future as manager appeared to have been thrown into doubt because of his apparent involvement in projected deals for former Leicester keeper Zeljko Kalac, midfielder Robert Enes and utility player Hamilton Thorp.

However, the Soccer Australia chairman, David Hill, has revealed that under the conditions of his contract, Venables is permitted to pursue other interests, but could not become directly involved in the transfers.

Hill said: "Terry Venables has done nothing that contravenes our rules or the contract we entered into with him."

Venables had sent videotapes of Sydney United's Kalac and Enes and West Adelaide's Thorp to the Portsmouth manager, Terry Fenwick, to study.

Portsmouth are believed to be tying up a move for the trio, for a fee in the region of pounds 1m, with defender Matthew Bingley also having been targeted. However, several clubs in Australia expressed their outrage that Venables was linked to the transfers, with draft letters of complaint filed to the Soccer Australia board alleging conflict of interest.

The clubs were citing the Stewart report, a 1994 document about alleged corruption in transfer dealings, particularly with regard to the impropriety of national coaches being involved in any deals.

But Hill added: "When we negotiated his contract he asked if his interest in Portsmouth was a problem and we said 'no'. He is allowed to pursue outside interests."