Tag Archives: World Cup 2014

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

World Cup Qualifier: Moldova 3-0 San Marino

11t October 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Zimbru Stadium, Chisinau, Moldova (Att. 5,000)

Moldova 3-0 San Marino


San Marino didn’t do too badly in Chisinau on Friday, lasting at 0-0 until beyond half-time.  Unfortunately a repeat of last month’s goal scoring heroics wasn’t to be, and ten minutes into the second half Moldova finally got their breakthrough.

Viorel Frunza beat Aldo Simoncini, who was restored to the team between the San Marino posts, after good work from Alexandru Antoniuc.  Eugeniu Sidorenco added a second after another goal mouth scramble, before banging home the third himself a minute from time.

Moldova played patiently throughout, presumably feeling that the breakthrough would eventually come. A policy that was clearly based on fact. This win broke Moldova’s run of four matches without a win. We eon’t go into how many matches San Marino now are without a win…

So all in all not a bad showing from San Marino; a goalless first half, and keeping the score to two before the final minute.  No goals scored though, for shame.

Group H now looks like this…

1. England Pl. 9 Pts. 19
2. Ukraine 9 18
3. Montenegro 9 15
4. Poland 9 13
5. Moldova 9 8
6. San Marino 9 0

All that remains now is for San Marino to act as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter against Ukraine on Tuesday night.  Ukraine will of course need a win to try and steal top spot from England, who face Poland on the same night.

Can San Marino avoid another 9 goal humping?  Let’s hope so.

End of the World – October 2013


San Marino’s final two fixtures in this World Cup campaign take place in the coming days, with a visit to the next worst team in the group, Moldova, on Friday followed by a home match with Ukraine next week.

Coming on the back of a goal scoring performance last time out against Poland, San Marino will be looking to repeat the unlikely feat in Chisinau.  Surely they can’t bang in another one can they?

They’ve not managed to breach the Moldovan net in four previous meetings so hopes aren’t high, but Moldova are rather inept themselves so let’s not rule out all hope. This fixture marks the fourth October in succession that this fixture has been played. Something of a record surely, but it hasn’t been a hapyp fixture for San Marino. Continue reading

World Cup Qualifier: San Marino 1-5 Poland

10thSeptember 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino 1-5 Poland


Oh my!  Oh net bulging, goal scoring, my!  They only went and scored a goal!  And not just any old goal either, but an equalising goal.  I could only have been bettered if they’d actually taken the lead.

Alessandro Della Valle is the man of the moment, with San Marino’s first competitive goal for five long years.  Let’s celebrate this for all it’s worth – it could be a while before this happens again… Continue reading

World Cup Qualifier: Ukraine 9-0 San Marino

6thSeptember 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine (Att. 34,000)

Ukraine 9-0 San Marino


A full house in Lviv came expecting to see blood, and that’s exactly what they got.  In fact it was Ukraine’s biggest ever international win in their 20 or so years of history.  It’s no coincidence that this was also their first match against San Marino.

For Ukraine this served as useful target practice ahead of next week’s rather bigger match with England, but for San Marino it was never going to be anything other than a futile attempt at stemming the tide. Continue reading

San Marino back into the firing line

FiringLineThis week sees San Marino’s hapless heroes entering the World Cup fray again with a double header of fixtures.  A trip to Lviv in Ukraine is first up on Friday night for the first of two meetings with Ukraine in the next few weeks.  Then on Tuesday it’s back home to entertain Poland.  Hopes are not high.

This will be the first ever meeting between Ukraine and San Marino, but the nation ranked 28thin the world are unlikely to be worried about this one.

By contrast Tuesday sees the 8th meeting between Poland and San Marino, with the Sammarinese yet to find the net in the previous 7 defeats, with 28 goals finding the San Marino net.

Things have actually got worse over the years, after the first meeting in 1993 in a World Cup qualifier saw a mere 1-0 win for Poland in Lodz.  But a 2010 World Cup qualifier in Kielce in 2009 saw a whopping 10-0 win for the Poles.

An interesting nugget of trivia?  Poland have never qualified for a tournament when San Marino have been in their qualifying group.  This is the fourth time they’ve been drawn together, and Poland’s qualification hopes are on a knife edge.  History to repeat itself?  You read it here first.

Most recently the teams meet back in march when Poland won 5-0 in Warsaw, but San Marino came damn close to scoring with a one-on-one breakaway sadly being saved.

Previous meetings:

28thApril 1993 World Cup Qualifier Lodz Poland 1-0 San Marino
19thMay 2003 World Cup Qualifier Serravalle San Marino 0-3 Poland
7thSept 2002 Euro Qualifier Serravalle San Marino 0-2 Poland
2ndApril 2003 Euro Qualifier Ostrowiec Poland 5-0 San Marino
10thSept 2008 World Cup Qualifier Serravalle San Marino 0-2 Poland
1stApril 2009 World Cup Qualifier Kielce Poland 10-0 San Marino
26thMarch 2013 World Cup Qualifier Warsaw Poland 5-0 San Marino Report

World Cup Qualifying: Montenegro 3-0 San Marino

14th November 2012
World Cup Qualifier
Stadion Podgorica

Montenegro 3-0 San Marino


Far from the beating we’d feared for San Marino, a 3-0 defeat represents something of a triumph for our boys in blue against the team now installed at the top of group H (although they are the only team to have had the pleasure of playing San Marino twice so far). Continue reading