Category Archives: American Samoa

Tonga: South Pacific Struggles

Tonga-Green-Mountains-HD-WallpapersThe Polynesian islanders of Tonga have never before featured at the bottom of the FIFA world rankings, though they have more than once had a bearing on matters relating to the worst in the world.

Back in the Oceania zone qualifying rounds for the 2002 World Cup, Tonga were pitched into an opening group with the regional might of Australia, among a few other Pacific island nations. Tonga suffered the ignominy of a world record defeat for an international match, going down 22-0 to the rampant Socceroos. Continue reading

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Three New Members Confirmed: Worst in the World Club of Six

rANKING dECEMBER 2015

The release of a new set of FIFA world rankings is often a predictable day for the Worst in the World club. Frequently it’s merely a case of confirming another month added on to the tally of those stuck stranded at the bottom of the world. There is the occasional glorious escape confirmed, and the odd descent to the lowest rung decided. Continue reading

31-0: An American Samoan Nightmare

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By this point they were beyond even humiliation. The bedraggled and deflated American Samoan team stood in a line, their baggy shirts flapping in the light evening breeze. With arms around each other’s shoulders they faced the appreciative Australian crowd and sang, in spite of the tears welling up in many of the players’ eyes. It was a song of pride, of defiance, of home. But home must have felt a long way off for the youthful squad who had just become world news, and not in a good way.

‘After the game we walked into the locker room, I bowed my head down and I cried a little bit,’ the goalkeeper Nicky Salapu recalled years later. ‘I felt very embarrassed and like I don’t want to play soccer anymore.’ Continue reading

Hall of Fame – Nicky Salapu

NickySalapuIf there is one person who personifies American Samoa’s travails as the Worst in the World, and their eventual escape from it, it is Nicky Salapu. As the youthful goalkeeper who conceded a record-breaking thirty-one goals in one international, he has known more than his fair share of sporting anguish. And boy has he has suffered for it The humiliation, the demons, the global ridicule. He’s had it all. And yet he found redemption in the very same tournament that had given him his darkest hour: World Cup qualification. All told, the induction of Nicky Salapu into the Worst in the World Hall of Fame is an obvious, straightforward decision.

His career with his national team was book-ended by the two most significant moments in their history – the 31-0 defeat to Australia in 2001, and the first ever victory, coming against Tonga in 2011. Both tales are fascinating insights into the lower reaches of international football and the people involved.

In the Oceania region qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, American Samoa were set to make their debut in the world’s premier tournament. In a slightly misguided move, the power brokers of the Oceania Football Confederation decided that the huge disparity in standard in the region wasn’t cause for a preliminary round. Instead, the ten teams would be split into two groups, one headed by Australia and the other by New Zealand, with the winners progressing to a playoff to find Oceania’s winner. (Another playoff would then be required for qualification, but such matters were a long way from the minds of the American Samoans.)

American Samoa were placed alongside Australia and a few of their South Pacific cousins. A hard enough task in its own right, but when FIFA ruled all but one of American Samoa’s squad ineligible due to passport issues, things got instantly more difficult. The last remaining member of their full squad? The twenty-year-old goalkeeper, Nicky Salapu. They couldn’t even bring in member of the under-20 squad to replace the first-teamers as most of them were sitting their high school exams at the time. So replacements were sought from the youth squad. Suddenly Nicky Salapu was promoted to captain and had to face the might of Australia alongside a babble of untried teenagers. What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Samoa win through: Samoa 1 American Samoa 0

26th November 2011
Oceania World Cup Qualifying Round 1
J.S. Blatter Stadium, Apia, Samoa

Samoa 1 – 0 American Samoa

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Samoa won the battle of the two Samoas, and also the Oceania World Cup Round One group, with a last minute Silao Malo goal to win 1-0.

It was also of course an almost unprecedented meeting of two current bottom ranked nations, although both had done plenty in their previous two matches to ensure neither of them are bottom any more. Continue reading

More Samoan Joy – Samoa 1 Tonga 1

24th November 2011
Oceania World Cup Qualifying Round 1
J.S. Blatter Stadium, Apia, Samoa

Samoa 1 – 1 Tonga

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Samoa still top the Oceania Round One group after a 1-1 draw with Tonga which has eliminated their opponents and the Cook Islands and set up a humdinger of a final match against American Samoa to decide qualification to the next round. Continue reading