Samoa will play host to the XIII South Pacific Games 2007 at the Taleofoa J.S.Blatter Playing Fields with team captain Chris Cahill - brother of English Premiership and Australia international star Tim Cahill - leading Manumea in their quest for football credibility.
Drawn in a group featuring Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Polynesian rivals Tonga and American Samoa, Manumea will cause a major stir if they can eliminate one of the Melanesian giants from a semi-final slot.
Preparations for the South Pacific Games consisted of a three-week training camp in Auckland, New Zealand against a variety of regional club sides that yeilded mixed results, suggesting Manumea will face a difficult task to progress further than the first phase.
At their last attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, the burly Samoans kept alive their tradition of underachievement as they tumbled out before the secondary group stage in Adelaide. Three defeats, 4-1 by Papua New Guinea, 4-0 by Fiji and 3-0 by Vanuatu, ended the Samoans' dreams.
Although they did manage a 4-0 win over their incompetent neighbours American Samoa, the three points were not enough for them to progress. They will now have to hope that their status improves some before South Africa 2010 qualifiers get underway.
A group of nine South Pacific islands, Samoa have been a FIFA member since 1996. Football has been given huge impetus on the islands through FIFA's GOAL Programme initiatives including the construction of the first football stadium in the country, the J. S. Blatter Football Playing Fields Complex in Apia.
This magnificent facility on a six-hectare site encompasses two international standard pitches and has been the venue for Oceania Nations Cup qualifying games.
On that occasion the host team missed out on a place in the final tournament, finishing in third place behind Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia, having recorded two wins and two defeats. Eventual Oceania Nations Cup winner New Zealand went on to compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003.
In April 2001, Samoa competed for a place in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ in Coffs Harbour/New South Wales. Richmond Faaisuaso scored half of their tally of 8-0 in their one and only win over American Samoa. Coached by Vic Fernandez, the team was eliminated after finishing in fourth position.
Samoa's last outing at an international event ended in comprehensive defeat with their youth team losing all seven matches at the OFC U-20 Men's Championship New Zealand 2007. Only star defender Damian Fonoti caught the eye as his team struggled to stem a steady stream of goals.
Keeping up their tradition of underachievement, Samoa will need to do some soul searching before they can keep up with the region's elite.