Socceroos hammer Cooks

The Cook Islands withstood an 18-minute barrage, then crumpled letting in a goal every four minutes as the Socceroos scored 17 times without reply to set a record winning margin.

The Cook Islands withstood an 18-minute barrage, then crumpled letting in a goal every four minutes as the Socceroos scored 17 times without reply to set a record winning margin in the opening match of the Oceania Nations Cup.

The 17-0 thrashing bettered the Socceroos previous best result by one goal, also against the Cook Islands when the two teams last met two years ago.

The Australians were falling over each other to score at the end of the match last night and ,if it hadn't been for some brilliant goalkeeping by Tony Jamieson, the Socceroos could have added another 10 to an already impressive 17-0 scoreline.

"It's funny when you are the man of the match and yet you concede 17 goals," Socceroos coach Frank Farina said.

At the other end of the park beanpole goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac could have slung a hammock across the goals, he had that little to do.

The Cook Islands, with only 600 registered players, were never going to test the Socceroos and in reality would have struggled against local league sides across Australia.

Craig Foster hit four goals, Clayton Zane bagged three within seven minutes - and he'd only been off the substitute's bench for 12 minutes - while Kevin Muscat, David Zdrilic and Paul Agostino notched doubles.

Tony Popovic, Danny Tiatto, Stan Lazaridis and Steve Corica all claimed singles in a match where trying your best was not good enough and the Cook Islanders were found out almost from the kick-off.

Cook Islands coach Alan Taylor said his players were shell-shocked by the Australians after withstanding the initial bombardment.

"We knew it was going to be tough, it was what we expected and a bit more," he said.

He believed that just qualifying had been a bonus for his side and playing against Australia was a prize, albeit a painful one.

"In two days time we have another game, we'll forget about this one," Taylor said optimistically.

Jamieson, in goal, was hit with a machine-gun burst of shots throughout the balmy night and his only respite was when his defenders managed a long clearance or pumped the ball out of the park.

Farina said he would be taking no side lightly and put out the same side that beat Paraguay 2-1 in Melbourne last week.

This result, stunning though it was, takes little pressure off the Australians as the memory of losing to New Zealand in the final of this series two years a go and missing out on qualifying for the Confederations Cup still haunts the Socceroos.

This time the pressure is even greater as many of the overseas-based players have made the trip to Tahiti to show Farina they are committed to the cause.

Australia and New Zealand have been seeded with the Socceroos to play the Solomon Islands in their next group game on June 23.