Walter Pati struck a miracle shot to help American Samoa escape the jaws of defeat against Tuvalu on Match Day 3 of the men’s 2019 Pacific Games Samoa soccer game on July 12 at the Toleafoa JS Blatter Sports Complex in Tuanaimato.
American Samoa had been knocking on the scoring door all game-long, but finally cracked through on Pati’s shot during the 70th minute of the game. Pati took the shot from the edge of the box and closer to the sideline, and luckily for him, Tuvalu’s goalie stumbled, and that was enough for the ball to bounce past him once and go in for the goal.
Tuvalu’s goal came in the first half after a miscommunication between defender Ueli Tualaulelei and Nicky Salapu, and this allowed Tuvalu’s Alopua Petoa to win the ball and shoot it into the back of the net in the 31st minute.
Jaiyah Saelua turned back the clock on this game as he played superbly after a slow start. He was not settled in the first 10 minutes of the game, but after a sliding tackle from five yards away, winning the ball and getting up off the ground to possess it, it fueled Saelua to a great performance. He was a stalwart at the back for American Samoa.
He covered the left side, then the right, and at one point found himself on the attack and even took a shot at goal. High balls were easily handled by Saelua, and when he needed to get physical with the opponents, they were bumped and jostled out of position.
Takai Pouli also played a great game as many of his teammates were off on that day against Tuvalu. Pouli ran the length of the field on the attack, and then hustled back on defense. Both of these players brought their best against Tuvalu, with teammates Roy Ledoux and Milo Tiatia chipping in with solid performances as well.
American Samoa dominated possession in the beginning and played pressure ball up front. This allowed them to win the ball more and go on the attack. But after 20 minutes, Tuvalu started to turn the tide and took it to their opponents as they started to accumulate attacking opportunities.
American Samoa’s next opponent is the Solomon Islands on July 15, 2019 at four p.m.