The first round of the Oceania World Cup Qualification gets under way in Apia, Samoa in late November, and this gives two of our teams the chance to climb off the foot of the world rankings table, with no other action scheduled for our Worst in the World this month.
Indeed one of them at least will have to climb off the bottom since Samoa and American Samoa will face each other on 26th November. An unrelated but nonetheless interesting fact about the two Samoas is that while they currently both sit in the far west of the world, Samoa plan to switch to the far east at the end of the year by moving the international date line thus being on the same day as New Zealand. This would leave American Samoa, only a few miles across the water, being a day ahead of its near neighbour.
But who will be ahead on the football field? A draw would see both teams rise from the foot of the world rankings, and a win for either would obviously move them up the table.
Prior to that titanic clash of the Samoas, both sides will have already had two opportunities to move on up as the four team group sees each team play the others all in the Samoan capital Apia.
Five of those six matches will have interest to us as follows:
22nd November American Samoa v. Tonga
22nd November Cook Islands v. Samoa
24th November American Samoa v. Cook Islands
24th November Samoa v. Tonga
26th November Samoa v. American Samoa
The group is rounded off with Tonga and Cook Islands on the same day, but our World’s Worst eyes will be firmly focused on the All-Samoan clash.
For American Samoa in particular these three group matches offer the opportunity to rise from the bottom of the rankings and break a lengthy spell of ineptitude. They have been firmly attached to the basement, along with others, since January 2007, 58 consecutive months. Indeed but for a couple of new nations coming along and stealing bottom spot on two occasions they would have been rooted to the bottom since March 2005. This is of course partly aided by the fact that they have hardly played any matches in that time, but that just adds to the importance of the upcoming group for them.
In fact other than a group of Pacific Cup matches held in September this year, which American Samoa lost in each and every one, these will be their first matches for 4 years and the last World Cup qualifiers. A schedule like that leaves you doomed to the basement for a long time if you can’t manage at least a draw.
American Samoa of course jointly hold the ongoing record for consecutive months at the basement which currently stands at 58, an honour shared with the worst of all-time Montserrat. These three matches finally offer the chance to break that run, surely an opportunity not to be missed.
As for the other Samoa, they’ve only been basement boys for 2 months, but given the rarity of matches in that part of the world they could easily get stuck at the bottom like their neighbours from across the International Dateline.
Whatever happens, there will be some movement in our Worst in the World, which will make it a fascinating few days at the end of the month.