Football : Venables has perfect touch

Click to follow
Terry Venables maintained his perfect record as Australia coach as his team of home-based players beat Norway 1-0 in Sydney yesterday to win the four-nation tournament. The left-back Robbie Hooker scored in the 72nd minute to secure Australia's third win in seven days for a maximum haul of nine points.

Venables, who led England to the semi-finals of Euro 96 last summer, said: "We can't get carried away because we've got a long way to go. But it's a very good sign. I'm very encouraged." Australia had defeated New Zealand and South Korea in their previous matches in the tournament.

Venables added: "In the second half Norway had to come and get the ball, so they stretched their team. I thought in the last 15 minutes they got tired." The former Barcelona and Tottenham manager, who was unable to select any players from European clubs for the tournament, said his Australian- based side had "put more pressure on overseas players than perhaps they have done before".

Australia organised the tournament as part of their preparations for the Oceania qualifying group matches later this year for the 1998 World Cup in France. Venables has signed an 18-month contract to lead Australia through the qualifying campaign.

New Zealand lost 3-1 to South Korea in the other match played yesterday. New Zealand led 1-0 at half-time through Vaughan Coveny but the South Koreans scored three times in the final 14 minutes.

The forward Park Kun Ha equalised in the 77th minute with the substitute Go Jong Su scoring in the 83rd minute and setting up Yoo Sang Chui for the third.

The second division strugglers Bournemouth attempted to forget, for 90 minutes at least, that yesterday's game against Bristol City at Ashton Gate could have been their last after the receivers were called in with the club holding debts of pounds 3.7m. Certainly the players seemed little affected by the crisis and Bournemouth took the lead in the 42nd minute through the central defender Ian Cox. They held on against the division's most prolific scorers to take three points and move up a place to 15th.

The result was some comfort to the small band of travelling faithful who left wondering whether they will still have a club to follow by three o'clock next Saturday when another seaside club, Blackpool, are due to be the visitors to Dean Court where a local confectionery company has promised to give away free sticks of rocks to young supporters. AFC Bournemouth, however, need a donation of more substance.

It remains to be seen whethher the Cherries can survive. The receivers have pledged that their aim is to "save football at Bournemouth ... We will explore all the options in the time available to us." With the Football League demanding guarantees that the Dorset club can fulfil their fixtures until the end of the season, that time may be short.