American Samoa men’s team lost big to Fiji, seeing nine goals scored against them on Match Day 3 of the 2019 Pacific Games Samoa on July 10 at the Toleafoa JS Blatter Soccer Field in Tuanaimato.
Despite the score, American Samoa showed some fortitude in the first 20 minutes of the game, holding Fiji scoreless with a 4-5-1 formation. Fiji could have scored much earlier, but nerves got the best of them with shots caroming off of the goal posts and crossbar, or goalkeeper Nicky Salapu making great saves.
The team kept their shape and compactness for most of the first half, but when they broke down Fiji was able to capitulate. Tito Vodowaqa scored four goals for Fiji, and his first two were the first ones of the game coming in the 20th and 24th minutes. Both could have been avoided but American Samoa’s defense broke down with players not getting back in position to help stop the goals.
The last two goals of the first half came 10 minutes apart, in the 36th and 46th minutes, again when the team’s defense broke down from great passing and running on to passes by Fiji’s players.
In the last half, goals came within minutes of one another when American Samoa’s defense lapsed again. Fiji scored their next two goals during the 49th and 50th minutes to make it 6-0.
The last three all came in the 82nd, 84th and 89th minutes.
“We played very well in the beginning of the game, maintaining our shape and focus,” said the team’s coach, Tunoa Lui. “But our players started to lose their shape and it allowed Fiji to take advantage.”
Goalkeeper Salapu played another solid game again, and American Samoa made two changes to its lineup, resting Jaiyah Saelua and MJ Faoa-Danielson while putting in Kuresa Taga’i and Chris Faamoana.
Faamoana played as the lone striker up front and did a decent job chasing after the ball, while Takai Pouli also had a solid game on the right wing. Because of the intensity of the speed of the game, it took its toll on the American Samoa players as they became slower to cover the gaps or the dribbler.
The men’s team has a day off before next facing off against Tuvalu on July 12 (July 11 American Samoa date) at 9AM.