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  -   NEWS
Saturday, April 14, 2001
Australia beat Fiji to top qualifying group

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia, April 14 (Reuters) - Australia beat Fiji 2-0 on Saturday to win their Oceania World Cup qualifying group.

Steve Corica scored the opening goal midway through the first half and Hayden Foxe sealed the win nine minutes from fulltime.

Australia, who play their last match against Samoa on Monday, failed to repeat their recent record-breaking wins over Tonga (22-0) and American Samoa (31-0), but this was of no concern to coach Frank Farina.

'As I have been stressing all week the result is all we wanted,' he said.

'Our boys gave everything they had and that's all you can ask for.'

Fiji, who play Tonga on Monday, had won their opening two matches against American Samoa and Samoa but adopted a defensive strategy to combat the free-scoring Australians.

They had only one serious shot on goal but coach Billy Singh said his team could be proud that they restricted Australia to just two goals.

'This professional side was fully stretched by us,' Singh said.

As group winners, Australia will play the winners of the second Oceania group, probably New Zealand, in a two-leg playoff in June.

The Oceania winner will then meet the fifth-placed team from the South American qualifying competition in a two-leg play-off in November for a spot in the 2002 World Cup.

The only disappointment for Australia was a hamstring injury suffered by Coventry City striker John Aloisi, who was carried off on a stretcher.

Tonga secured their second win of the tournament on Saturday with a 5-0 win over American Samoa, who have conceded 57 goals in four matches without scoring themselves.

Lokoua Taufahema scored twice before halftime to give Tonga a 2-0 lead at the break, then completed his hat-trick seven minutes after the re-start.

The American Samoans, whose 31-0 loss to Australia was the biggest defeat in international soccer history, managed to hold the Tongans at bay for almost half an hour before Penieli Moa scored from the spot in the 79th minute and Teu Fakava found the net four minutes from fulltime.

 

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