Ahead of the Oceania World Cup qualifying group later this month in Apia, Samoa, featuring not just one but two of our reigning Worst in the World, we’ll take a look at the nations hogging our attention in the tournament.
Today the focus is on American Samoa, long-standing Worst in the World regulars who have taken basement dwelling to new
heights depths along with their Caribbean cousins from the island of Montserrat.
American Samoa sit second only to Montserrat on our all-time worst table, and their current run at the foot of the world rankings now stands at 58 months, dating back to January 2007. With the next FIFA rankings coming out ahead of these fixtures it will be 59 months and counting by then.
What of course stands in the way of any upward progress for our intrepid islanders is that they very rarely play any matches, and when they do they are beaten; never a recipe for success. Indeed since joining FIFA in 1998 they have never won a FIFA sanctioned match. Not only that but they’ve never drawn one either, and it’s rare that they even score a goal. A remarkable achievement I’m sure everyone will agree.
Even back in their brief history pre-FIFA I can only find record of one victory, a 3-0 Pacific Cup win over non-FIFA Wallis and Futuna.
The only breaks in their stint as World’s Worst tend to come when a new nation gains FIFA recognition and has 0 points in their first month. Even that doesn’t happen sometimes if the new nation manages to get a match played before a new ranking table comes out.
This will be the start of their fourth World Cup campaign, and have played 12 group matches over the previous tournaments, losing all 12 conceding 129 goals in the process, and scoring just 2 in reply.
American Samoa have only played a total of 26 matches since joining FIFA, although this year has been their busiest yet, with Pacific Cup matches in September which all resulted in defeats, naturally.
They are most famous for being on the wrong end of the biggest win in international football when losing 31-0 to Australia in April 2001 as part of the 2002 World Cup. The behind the scoreline story shows the Samoans unable to field their normal side due to visa issues and unable to call up anyone from the Under-20’s team due to school exams (yes, really) resulting in several 15 year olds playing this match, for whom this represented their first 90 minute match.
No wonder they were hammered, not that the result would have been anything other than a huge defeat no matter what of course.
Having the misfortune to be playing in goal that day was a 21 year old Nicky Salapu, and he is still a member of the current squad hoping for a rather better outcome this time around.
“I’m an explorer and it’s a part of the world I’ve never been to,” says the man himself. “We’ll do our best in qualifying but I hope to leave something tangible behind as well.”
Whether he can coax some results from his players remains to be seen, but for us if they can avoid defeat in any of their three matches against Tonga, Cook Islands or Samoa they will climb off the bottom of the World Rankings and will earn themselves a glowing tribute from us.
American Samoa’s World Cup fixtures:
22nd November – v. Tonga (ranked 201) Played 6 times, lost 6 times
24th November – v. Cook Islands (ranked 196) Played twice, lost twice
26th November – v. Samoa (ranked 203) Played 7 times, lost 7 times