Foxey's Back

Hayden Foxe may find Saturday's football activity somewhat more taxing than he has been used to in the last couple of weeks.

Hayden was involved in Australia's world cup [and world record] qualifying game against Tonga which set a record 22-0 score that they beat a few days later without Hayden, when they beat American Samoa 31-0.

He was back in action, and goalscoring action at that, when he played in the wins over Fiji [2-0] and Samoa [11-0].

Australia averaged 16.5 goals per match or one every five and a half minutes and will meet the winner of Oceania group two in a two-leg play-off in june.

West Ham had tried to get permission, granted to some of the other players based in this country, for Hayden to stay - but to no avail.

"I love playing for my country, but whatever happened is between West Ham and soccer Australia.

"Whatever they decide I just have to do what I'm told to do," he says.

"It got a bit embarrassing though; they are more like rugby league scores; it's not doing us any good and it's not doing them any good getting floggings like that - you'd be better off training.

"We finished what we had to do over in Australia and now I am looking to get back to training with the boys.

"But is always an honour to play for your country whether it is against Brazil or the teams we did play against.

"They called us back for one particular game, Fiji, and that turned out to be quite a tough game.

"But the other three games were virtually a waste of time and it got a bit embarrassing towards the end - hopefully the Federation can sort something out with FIFA for future qualification.

"I got my name on the score sheet against Fiji with a volley after a corner was headed out.

"The other goal I scored was a deflection and I don't know if I should claim it!

"The Fiji match was like a world cup final for them and they weren't the easy beats like the other sides.

"Their coach doesn't mind saying a few things but we made him eat his words."

American Samoa are the worst team in the FIFA rankings at 203rd and turned to god for help prior to their match against the zone's number one seeds.

"Frightened is not the word, we will go out and see what we can do; we are asking the lord to help keep the score down," American Samoa coach Tunoa Lui had said before the game.

It is not thought Foxey's next opponents - he is almost certain to be selected with Rigobert Song now on international duty - Leeds will have the same pre-match problems as American Samoa.

Unsure of FIFA regulations, team officials found out that 95 per cent of their squad were ineligible because they did not have american passports.

So the revamped squad, which consisted of several young teenagers, had to spend the day before their opening game against Fiji on april 7 buying boots.

The previous record victory in an international was China's 20-0 defeat of Bhutan in an Asia 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 qualifying in Tehran last october.

Rumours that Libya had beaten Oman 21-0 in an international in 1966 remain unconfirmed.

So it's back to basics for Hayden as he looks to get his second game for the Hammers.

Ironically, had he not recently got married, these recent farcical games would have given him the requisite number of appearances to be allowed to play in this country, though with the transfer deadline passed it wouldn't have been until next season.

Yet a recent friendly against Colombia, an altogether stronger side, would NOT have counted.

"There are 4 games left and I've got to cement my place in the side again," he says.

After returning to Heathrow on wednesday afternoon, he is back in training on thursday, albeit a bit jet lagged.

Hayden has been dubbed the 'white Rio Ferdinand' but it is not a moniker he invites.

"I'm up against Rio and Viduks and Harry Kewell, a couple of aussie mates, so it will be a really good test.

"I don't like comparisons, Rio is an absolutely quality player, an established international.

"I'm yet to get there yet and it is hard to compare the both of us.

"I will let people make their own judgements and see what happens. "I love it here, but as soon as I played my first game I had to go off again.

"It might take a couple of games to settle in but I love the style, the players, the fans..."

Hayden has two goals just ahead of him:

The winners of the Oceania zone will play the fifth-placed team in the CONMEBOL section, with the winner of the play-off going on to the 2002 World Cup finals in Korea and Japan.

And playing in West Ham's final run-in will give him invaluable experience for the 2001/02 domestic campaign.

"We need to get these wins under our belt so we can build for next season," he stresses.