American Samoa slays its demons with first win
Victory, at last
Just 10 years ago American Samoa were a footballing joke after being mauled 31-0 by Australia in a World Cup qualifier, a result that still stands as the most one-sided full international in history. And frankly their entire international record hasn’t been much of a party either with the Pacific side managing 30 straight defeats in its various campaigns over two decades.
But the Samoans now have something to celebrate with a 2-1 win over Tonga in their opening qualifier for the 2014 World Cup. Ramin Ott and Kaneti Falela were the goalscoring heroes as American Samoa, 204th and equal last in the FIFA rankings, scalped their 202nd-ranked neighbours.
Their coach, former USA under 20 gaffer Thomas Rongen, said it was just as much a historic moment as the low-point against Australia was.
“Maybe we have a chance to do something special here beyond this one game, but let’s enjoy this one right now,” he said. “The game at the highest level can be very cynical but this is just about 23 guys making sacrifices. They’re not getting anything to be here and some are spending time away from their jobs and are losing money because of that.”
Also taking part in the qualification tournament at the, ahem, J.S. Blatter stadium in Apia, Samoa, are the Cook Islands (ranked 196) and Samoa (also at 204). The winner of the tournament will progress to the group stage of the Oceania Confederation play-offs.