Australia set world record with 22-0 win over Tonga


Australia set a world record yesterday when they trounced Tonga 22-0 in their opening match of the Oceania World Cup qualifiers, the biggest victory in international football.

A spokesman for FIFA said the previous record victory in an international was China's 20-0 defeat of Bhutan in an Asian Cup qualifier in 2000.

The previous record for a World Cup qualifier was held by Iran who beat Guam 19-0 in Asia's first round of World Cup qualifying in Tehran last October.

The FIFA spokesman said there were "rumours" that Libya had beaten Oman 21-0 in an international in 1966 but this was unconfirmed.

It was a particularly good day for Coventry City's reserve striker John Aloisi, who scored six times against Tonga, and Wolves' Kevin Muscat, Australia's captain, who added five. But Australia, 75th in FIFA's world rankings, could smash their record tomorrow when they play American Samoa, ranked 203rd and officially the worst team in the world.

Tonga, commonly known as the "Friendly Islands", conceded 10 goals by half-time despite their defensive 10-0-0 formation. Aloisi netted his double hat-trick in the first 61 minutes but was subsequently substituted after a 14minute goal drought.

Although Australia left many of their Premiership stars in England, the Tongan coach Gary Phillips criticised the Socceroos for picking eight foreign-based professionals.

"I do not see the point of some of these superstars coming back for this," Phillips said. "If you add together the value of the Australian team and then divide it by five, then you have the value of the Tongan economy."

Many of their club managers, including Dick Advocaat of Rangers, are equally disgruntled. With a population of just over 100,000, Tonga lost their first international 8-0 to Fiji in 1979. They have since won five international matches and are ranked 185th in the world.

Australia's 21st goal was scored by substitute Con Boutsianis, who was fined last week and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond after admitting his role in a 1998 armed robbery.

Ronny Johnsen began his latest comeback from injury when he played for Manchester United reserves in their 2-1 defeat at Newcastle last night.