The tiny Pacific nation, which consists of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls, has participated in four previous FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns. The first attempt to compete on the world stage began ignominiously, when a team comprising mostly of inexperienced teenagers, suffered a world record 31-0 defeat against Australia in April 2001. With a tiny population numbering around 60,000 it is little surprise that American Samoa failed to record a win in their first three campaigns. However, that all changed on 22 November 2011 as American Samoa defeated Tonga during Brazil 2014 qualifying, making global headlines in the process. American Samoa then drew with Cook Islands, and only a late goal from neighbours Samoa ended their hopes of an unlikely progression to Oceania’s Round Two.
Unlike some Oceania nations, American Samoa are regular participants in continental World Cup qualifiers at youth level, and their hope is that such investment will pay dividends for the senior team. American Samoa’s all-amateur national team thus have a young average age, with most based domestically. USA-based Ramin Ott and Shalom Luani proved important team members after they were brought into the squad during Brazil 2014 qualifying, although the latter has since taken up American Football in the College system.
Local football identity Uinifareti Aliva steps into the massive shoes left by American Thomas Rongen who achieved such success with the side during their breakthrough Brazil 2014 qualifying campaign. Aliva has previously coached the nation’s youth teams, and also the senior women’s national team at the Pacific Games.
17 – American Samoa waited 17 years from their FIFA recognised debut to record their first international win in 2011.
The former stars
Natia Natia, Nicky Salapu