Oceania qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ has commenced with American Samoa creating a slice of history with a 2-1 victory over Tonga in Samoa.
A goal in each half from Ramin Ott and Shalom Luani ensured American Samoa, who had lost all of their previous 12 FIFA World Cup matches, kicked off their Brazil 2014 campaign in the best possible fashion.
The match was played in humid conditions at J.S. Blatter Field in Apia, with Round One of Oceania qualifying also featuring Cook Islands and Samoa who played later in the day. And it was the host nation that took a narrow lead at the top of the standings thanks to a 3-2 injury-time win against Cook Islands.
An action-packed encounter saw Ott - who scored one of American Samoa's two previous FIFA World Cup goals - thump a shot against the crossbar just past the half-hour mark, before breaking the deadlock two minutes prior to the interval. Ott’s speculative long-range effort somehow evaded goalkeeper Kaneti Felela for the opening goal.
Shalom Luani then doubled American Samoa’s lead midway through the second half when he ran onto a through ball and lobbed the oncoming Felela.
Tonga gave themselves a lifeline with two minutes remaining when Unaloto Feao headed home a Lafaele Moala cross at the back post.
Tonga were desperate to take something from their opening match but goalkeeper Nicky Salapu, a veteran of American Samoa’s FIFA World Cup debut in 2001, pulled off several crucial stops in a frantic finish to the match.