FFAS > News > OFC STAGE 1 QUALIFIERS > 2015 American Samoa National team raises the bar

2015 American Samoa National team raises the bar

“Don’t forget you were out there representing your own country,” Faiivae added. “For some of you this is your grandfather, your grandmother, or your parents country. Remember, this is also your country because you were out there representing American Samoa, so be proud of yourself for representing your country.”
Faiivae and the FFAS executive committee hosted a luncheon to thank the national squad and team management after they competed in the recent, OFC Stage 1 qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
“First off I want to say what an amazing team!” exclaimed Larry Mana’o, coach of the American Samoa men’s national team. “I know you guys didn’t get the result that we all want. And we’ve been trying to plan this for so long to make this the best team.”
American Samoa walked away from the OFC Stage 1 tournament with two wins and a loss, losing to Samoa in goals differential, 3-2. In their last game of the tournament, they beat the Cook Islands 2-0 but needed at least one more goal to win the first stage.
“In my heart and in my mind, I still believe you were the best team in this tournament,” Mana’o said.
“It was a heartbreaking win for us because we needed one more goal,” said the team’s captain, Ramin Ott. “Now we are going to have to wait another four years until the next qualifiers. I don’t know if I’ll be selected for that team but I am not going to sit back and not try out in another four years.”
“I thank you Ramin for being a great captain to our players,” Taumua said. “I hope that in another four years you’ll be around to complete this mission.”
Ott has scored in three different, FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns. He scored in 2007 against the Solomon Islands in Samoa, then scored again in Samoa in 2011 against Tonga before scoring his third during this year’s tournament against Tonga, again.
“To be honest, I really had a feeling before the match that I might score,” Ott recalled. “And I was in the right place to score for the boys.”
The team Ott wanted to beat the most, was Samoa.
“I’ve never beaten Samoa and I wanted to win so bad against them,” Ott said.
Samoa scored three goals in the first 26 minutes of their match on August 31 in Tonga, and then managed to hold on 3-2 after American Samoa’s comeback bid fell short.
Their second opponent was a familiar foe, Tonga, and they won with a similar score to that of 2011.
“I am amazed that the guys held it together after Tonga scored the first goal and then came back and score twice in the next five minutes,” recalled Tavita Taumua, FFAS’ CEO and the team’s manager for the recent FIFA qualifiers.
The captain filled up his lungs and issued commands to his teammates after that score.
“I called out to Justin (Mana’o), to our defenders, ‘It’s not going to happen today,’” Ott said. “I told them, ‘Tonga is not going to win on us.’”
Ott followed through on that promise by blasting in the game winner.
On the final day of the tournament, American Samoa needed at least a 2-0 win against the Cook Islands as well as a favorable result in the other match between Samoa and Tonga to take the first stage.
Samoa and Tonga played first with the former coming through with a big, 3-0 win. That meant American Samoa needed at least a 3-0 result against the Cook Islands in order to win the goals scored tiebreaker.
American Samoa won 2-0, but watched as Samoa celebrated winning the OFC Stage 1 for the second time since the qualifiers went through this format.
“I know we’ve had ups and downs, and we’ve been together for the last eight weeks,” Taumua said to the players during the luncheon. “I told you when we were off island, that I hope you don’t have regrets after the tournament. I sincerely hope you all don’t have regrets.”
The team had been training in Seattle, Washington in the association’s efforts to create cohesiveness between all of the players, as well as provide the team with quality teams to compete against in preparation for this year’s tournament.
“We’re going to look forward in another four years,” Taumua pointed out. “Don’t wait for me to contact you. If you have a Samoan heart, then prepare yourself for the next competition, come back as a better player than you are now.
“It’s been two (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers, I wanted to win so bad, to be honest,” Taumua said, “I wanted so bad to win the first stage. To the team, thank you very much for your efforts, and if we all stay together as a team, I believe good things will happen.”
Mana’o said that there were many positives that occurred from this campaign to build on as a team.
“We’ve won two games, scored six goals and a had shutout,” he said. “It was the first time for us to ever beat the Cook Islands, the first time that no one has even scored on us in a game, and we have improved from four years ago to today.
“So we’re going to take these small things and build on it for the future of our national team, and our country.”
The team saw only four returning players from 2011: captain Ramin Ott, second-choice goalie Nicky Salapu, Casper Kuresa and Justin Mana’o.
“Our association thanks you from the bottom of their hearts for representing American Samoa,” a thankful Faiivae said. “Safe travels to you all when you return home.”

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