In the firing line
SYDNEY - The future of Socceroos captain Lucas Neill is set to be put under the microscope after the sacking of Holger Osieck as coach, with former Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich calling for the veteran defender to step aside. Osieck was the obvious fall guy as Australia slumped to their second successive 6-0 loss — this time to France — just eight months out from the World Cup in Brazil.
SAINT-ETIENNE, France - French Ligue 1 club St Etienne confirmed on Friday they have bought Hampden's famous old square goalposts, symbol of their 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the 1976 European Cup final. The Glasgow stadium used the iconic posts from 1903 until 1987 before FIFA regulations meant they had to be replaced.
WELLINGTON - The Hurricanes have signed powerful Southland midfield back Cardiff Vaega for the 2014 Super Rugby season. Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett says he had been impressed by the form of Vaega, who has not played at Super Rugby level but is showing good physicality and defensive technique in the NPC.
NEW YORK - If the US government's partial shutdown persists, organisers of the New York City Marathon said on Friday they might be forced to find an alternative staging area. But the organisers insisted the event, which was cancelled at 48 hours' notice due to Superstorm Sandy last year, would go ahead on November 3.
EDINBURGH - Scotland's rugby team is likely to be without one of its few star players for the coming Tests against Japan, South Africa and Australia after fullback Stuart Hogg was forced to undergo surgery on an injured wrist. Hogg, who toured Australia with the British and Irish Lions this year, was injured playing for Glasgow against Leinster three weeks ago.
WELLINGTONc- New Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says Sunday's A-League match against Brisbane Roar will be won or lost in the midfield. Looking to finalise a makeshift team ahead of his team's season opener at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Merrick says the match will hinge on whether the Phoenix can keep the Roar's creative midfielders under wraps.
Euro Cup rugby
PARIS - Five-eighth Paddy Jackson guided Ulster to a hard-fought victory over English giants Leicester in the opening round of rugby's European Cup on Friday, but there was a fright for Saracens at the hands of Connacht. Jackson hit five penalties and a conversion for 17 points as the Irish province clung on to win 22-16, Leicester snatching a bonus point at the death. Connacht, coached by former Samoan No.8 Pat Lam held Saracens to 17-17 at halftime.