Sporting Digest: Football

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Manchester United will face a weakened Australian squad made up of Olympic squad members and out-of-season national league players in their two friendly matches in Australlia next week. The Rangers defender Tony Vidmar and the goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac of Roda JC Kerkrade are the latest withdrawals as European clubs refuse to release players. The strikers Harry Kewell (Leeds), Mark Viduka (Celtic) and John Aloisi (Coventry), plus the Fiorentina midfielder Paul Okon, have also been refused permission by their clubs to play in the two matches.

Benfica's Belgian international Michel Preud'homme, rated the best goalkeeper at the 1994 World Cup finals, yesterday announced his retirement as a player and his appointment as director of the club's international relations.