American Samoa

American Samoa AmericanSamoaBadge.svg
Months as Worst in the World : 91
When? : March 2000 – April 2001 (14 months)
March 2005 – May 2006 (15 months)
August 2006 – November 2006 (4 months)
January 2007 – November 2011 (58 months)
All-Time Worst in the World Ranking : =27th
American Samoa on FIFA
American Samoa on OFC
National FA Website

No worst in the world team has as heart-warming a tale of eventual escape as American Samoa do. It was even made into a documentary movie (link to Next Goal Wins), such was the dramatic nature of it.

But their story didn’t begin there. Instead it began when they joined FIFA in 1998 and proceeded to rapidly become the whipping boys of the South Pacific. They lost four out of four in the OFC Nations Cup preliminary group that year but in doing so they earned the handful of ranking points to keep them clear of the bottom of the rankings – even in defeat. Such were the quirks of the early rankings mechanisms.

But their position gradually dwindled thanks to the achievements of others and their own inactivity. By early 2000 American Samoa had sunk to the foot of the rankings and so they took part in that year’s Polynesian Cup as the worst team in the world. An 18-0 defeat to Tahiti in their first match at that tournament provided a perfect justification of that ranking, and things didn’t improve much from there.

They remained rooted to the bottom of the world rankings for the next year or so and were still the worst in the world when they tumbled blindly towards their darkest footballing day. In the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, the first that American Samoa had entered, they were placed in a group alongside some of their South Pacific counterparts and a regional giant; Australia. The outcome would have been messy even without the extra difficulties American Samoa encountered. Passport issues and restrictions meant that only one player from their squad was deemed eligible to play, a youthful goalkeeper named Nicky Salapu. They had to find a whole new team from somewhere, and quick. To make matters worse, the under-21 squad were mostly unavailable too – most of them were other occupied taking their school exams back in American Samoa. So they had to turn to the teenagers of the youth squad. Hardly ideal.

With all of that in mind, the scale of the defeats were perhaps unsurprising, but the 31-0 defeat to Australia went down in infamy, as well as in the record books. It was, and remains to this day, the biggest defeat in international football history. It was a defeat that would haunt many of those involved, particularly Nicky Salapu, for years to come.

Ironically the four defeats suffered in those World Cup qualifiers still garnered some ranking points under the old point scheme and so American Samoa edged above the lowliest ranking for a while. Come March 2005, however, they had suck to the depths once more and this time there would be no escape – save for a one month interlude when the ranking system altered in 2006 – for six and a half years.

It was the World Cup once again that provided the means of escape. In the opening round of Oceania qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, American Samoa no longer had to face a regional powerhouse, but instead faced the other three weakest teams from the region. Under the temporary stewardship of Dutch-American Thomas Rongen – a helping hand from the US Soccer Federation – American Samoa, with Nicky Salapu in goal once more, facing his demons of a decade before, finally won a game beating Tonga 2-1. They followed that up with a draw against the Cook Islands and narrowly lost to their near neighbours Samoa to just miss out on qualification for the next round. Heart warming, uplifting, restorative and emotional. It was the stuff of a Hollywood drama – I highly recommend watching the documentary film Next Goal Wins – but was the reality for our intrepid American Samoans.

American Samoa Article Links
The Other Final 31-0: An American Samoan Nightmare american-samoa-footballNew World Rankings – great news for Samoa and American Samoa
Brasil2014Dealings Down Under – Oceania World Cup Qualifiers
Matches played as Worst in the World
8th June 2000 Polynesia Cup Tahiti Tahiti 18-0 American Samoa American Samoa
12th June 2000 Polynesia Cup American Samoa American Samoa 0-3 Cook Islands Cook Islands
14th June 2000 Polynesia Cup Tonga Tonga 2-1 American Samoa American Samoa
7th April 2001 World Cup Qualifier Fiji Fiji 13-0 American Samoa American Samoa
9th April 2001 World Cup Qualifier American Samoa American Samoa 0-8 Samoa Samoa
11th April 2001 World Cup Qualifier Australia Australia 31-0 American Samoa American Samoa Report
14th April 2001 World Cup Qualifier American Samoa American Samoa 0-5 Tonga Tonga
25th August 2007 South Pacific Games & World Cup Qual. Solomon Islands Solomon Islands 12-1 American Samoa American Samoa
27th August 2007 South Pacific Games & World Cup Qual. American Samoa American Samoa 0-7 Samoa Samoa
29th August 2007 South Pacific Games & World Cup Qual. American Samoa American Samoa 0-15 Vanuatu Vanuatu
1st September 2007 South Pacific Games & World Cup Qual. Tonga Tonga 4-0 American Samoa American Samoa
30th August 2011 Pacific Games American Samoa American Samoa 0-4 Solomon Islands Solomon Islands
1st September 2011 Pacific Games American Samoa American Samoa 0-2 Guam Guam
3rd September 2011 Pacific Games New Caledonia New Caledonia 8-0 American Samoa American Samoa
5th September 2011 Pacific Games American Samoa American Samoa 0-8 Vanuatu Vanuatu
22nd November 2011 World Cup Qualifier American Samoa American Samoa 2-1 Tonga Tonga
24th November 2011 World Cup Qualifier American Samoa American Samoa 1-1 Cook Islands Cook Islands
26th November 2011 World Cup Qualifier Samoa Samoa 1-0 American Samoa American Samoa

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