22nd November 2011
Oceania World Cup Qualifying Round
J.S. Blatter Stadium, Apia, Samoa
American Samoa 2–1 Tonga
American Samoa, long- standing (joint) worst in the world nation, without a win or even a draw in their entire FIFA affiliated history finally broke their duck last night after 30 consecutive losses with a truly historic win over Tonga.
The Samoans took the lead just before half-time thanks to a long range shot from Ramin Ott, and doubled it midway through the second half when Shalom Luani chipped the Tongan keeper after being put through on goal.
To add to their accolades, American Samoa can claim to be the first national team to field a transgender player, with defender Jaiyah Saelua playing the full match with some distinction. Her goal-line clearance in the final moments of the match maintained American Samoa’s slender advantage and helped secure the victory.
The goalkeeper who kept out everything bar a late well-placed Tongan header also had great cause for celebration. The same man who shipped a world record 31 goals to Australia in World Cup qualifying eleven years ago was still between the sticks for his country. Nicky Salapu had suffered the humiliation of that loss more than most, but his redemption was sweet, leaving the man himself moved to tears.
His teammates celebrated with a haka in the pitch, while Salapu looked on in stunned disbelief, his demons finally shed.
This result, as well as giving a 100% win record to new national team boss Dutchman Thomas Rongen, guarantees American Samoa will climb up the world rankings although the result will be too late for the latest rankings release.
It also of course gives them a real chance of progressing through to the next round of Oceania World Cup qualification which would be truly astonishing.
Before they disappear off into the lofty heights of one or two places off the bottom of the rankings table next month we’ll look over their amazing time as World’s Worst, but that’s for later. Right now let’s just celebrate this historic first ever win for American Samoa.
Next up will be the Cook Islands on 24th November before the clash of the Samoas on 26th November.