Brett Holman, the AZ Alkmaar midfielder, said Australia will take a lot of confidence to South Africa after his last-gasp goal gave them a 2-1 friendly win over their former Oceania rivals New Zealand. "It wasn't the best of performances, but a win is good," said Holman, a second-half replacement for Tim Cahill, the Everton midfielder, after netting the winner deep into injury time to give Australia the win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.
It was the first game between the two nations for five years, as Australia left the Oceania Football Confederation to join the Asian version in 2006 in order to give themselves a better chance of qualifying for the World Cup. Dario Vidosic had equalised for Australia in the 57th minute, with New Zealand's Chris Killen opening the scoring. New Zealand, ranked 78th in the world - 58 places below Australia - will take heart from the game after outplaying the Socceroos in the first half in front of 55,659 spectators. Australia open their Group D campaign at the World Cup against Germany on June 13. New Zealand's first match in Group F is against Slovakia on June 15.
Elsewhere, Ji-sung Park, the Manchester United midfielder, and Chu-young Park, the Monaco forward, scored either side of half time to lead South Korea to a 2-0 win over their fierce rivals in Asia, Japan. "We didn't lose our composure despite playing in front of a sell-out crowd and that was why we won," Jung-moo Huh, the South Korea coach said. "We don't play well when we are down a goal," said Takeshi Okada, Japan's coach. "Losing to South Korea twice in a year is not good enough and I take responsibility for that but there is nothing we can do but go forward." Both teams depart for pre-World Cup training camps in Europe this week. Japan play England in Austria on Sunday and the Ivory Coast in Switzerland on June 4 before arriving in South Africa. The South Koreans will leave Japan today for a training camp in Austria and friendlies against Belarus on May 30 and Spain on June 3.
The Japan coach Takeshi Okada offered to resign but was persuaded to carry on after a morale-sapping 2-0 defeat by South Korea in a tense World Cup send-off match for both sides. The South Korea captain Park Ji-sung inspired the visitors and left Japan's preparations for South Africa in tatters, with their opening Group E game against Cameroon just three weeks away. Park stunned Japan in the sixth minute with a superb solo goal, bursting past three players before smashing a right-foot shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty box. Substitute Park Chu-young added an injury-time penalty to complete a deserved victory for the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists. * Compiled by Thomas Woods, with agencies