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tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 1 - The Beginnings 

There are few results in football that are so incredible that they have an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it but, for the American Samoan National Team, this is an accolade that they would achieve in 2001 as they lost 31-0 to Australia in perhaps one of the most infamous games of international football to ever occur. 

For many, this was the first that they would have heard of this small American-owned Island territory and, with a population of just 50,000, American Samoa has long been accustomed to heavy defeat after heavy defeat – languishing right near the bottom of FIFA's World Rankings.


In 2011, however, this all changed as, during the 1st round qualifying stage for the 2014 World Cup, they defeated Tonga 2-1 to claim their first-ever FIFA recognised victory. 4 years later in 2015, they would even manage to go one better – defeating both the Cook Islands and Tonga as they rose to a record-breaking 164th in the World. 


American Samoan football, therefore, is clearly on the up and I want a piece of it. In this challenge, I will be taking over the American Samoan National Team. Will I be able to lead these underdogs to regional and international glory? Or, more likely, will I undo all the fantastic progress over the last decade and bring American Samoan football back to the dark days of 31-0? 


Loading up

No sooner had I landed, I was introduced to the team of superstars that were about to bring glory to American Samoan football. Don’t recognise anyone? Well, allow me to introduce you!

The boys who will bring glory back to American Samoa!


Key players

Nicky Salapu – At 40 years of age, Nicky Salapu is an absolute legend of American Samoan football, - even being the goalkeeper that played in that infamous 31-0 defeat. With me being a goalkeeper myself, we soon bonded over our shared history of conceding an unfathomable amount of goals in football games (something I have had great experience in at my local 5 a side).

Chris Fa'Amoana -  With 7 finishing Chris Fa'Amoana is clearly an absolute bagsman. He’ll be leading the line for us and is really our only source of goals upfront. 


Finally, we have these two very solid wingers. As you can see, the main strength of our team is our attack so hopefully, at the very least, we'll be able to get this side scoring.


The competitions

The Oceanic Nations Cup
Our first fixtures

As you can see, we have our first major tournament in the form of the Oceania Nations Cup. It appears that in the database I am using, this also doubles up as the World Cup Qualifiers for the Oceanic region. To be honest, I'm going into this with little to no expectations other than to gauge how far away our squad is from competing - with Tonga being the only game I'd perhaps expect a win from.


Regardless, I hope you all have enjoyed the first instalment of this challenge - please feel free to keep an eye out for part 2!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 2 - The Oceanic Nations Cup

 Our Oceanic Nations cup group would see us face Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Tongo, a tough group given that, with the exception of Tongo, featured teams dramatically higher in the world rankings! 

But I was confident. I had created a strong tactic, given these players the best coaching they had ever received in their life and, with a team talk that resembled more of a Napoleonic War address, I watched proudly as the American Samoan boys lined up against the titans of Papua New Guinea – ready to shock the world with an opening day win.

Game 1 - Papua New Guinea

We would go on to lose 3-0. I was disappointed as, aside from not winning, we didn’t really show anything in this game. Papua New Guinea scored 3 goals within 30 minutes and then just rode the rest of the game out – I’m not sure we even crossed the halfway line. But I tried not to get myself too despondent. Papua New Guinea are one of the better sides in Oceania and it was undoubtedly a tough opening test. 


Game 2- the Solomon islands

Our next game, against the Solomon Islands, on the surface, looks like a much better showing, only losing by 1 goal in a close affair. A closer look at the stats, however, will show you that they absolutely battered us – having over double our XG and 10 more shots. There were some positives to be taken from this, however. We had scored 3 goals which, above all else, showed me that on the attack we could compete with some of the best in the region. Secondly, I realised quite quickly that my tactic was not working so at halftime I switched systems.



The idea was to try and keep it a bit more simple and play a little bit more to the roles that my team preferred. From being 4-1 down at halftime, we went on to win the second half 2-0 – giving me a new tactical base to build off for our next game against Tahiti.


Game 3 - Tahiti

We again found ourselves 3-0 down within half an hour and would go on to lose 5-2. Two goals by star striker Fa’amoana did give us something to cheer but ultimately it was a fairly routine win for Tahiti.

Game 4 - Tonga

This left us with our final game, against fellow struggler Tonga. This is the only game I went into the tournament with any hope against and, with steadily improving performances, I was hoping we would be able to snatch a win.

A 2-2 draw was not exactly ideal however, after being 2-0 down after 20 minutes, I’m not sure I can be too disappointed. As well as the character shown to come back from behind, the performance was also another pleasing aspect – we had over double their shots, a vastly superior XG and, in all honesty, were perhaps a bit unfortunate not to come away with all 3 points.

The table

And that thus draws a curtain on our first attempt at regional glory. We ended up finishing 4th in our group which, going into the tournament, is probably the best we could have expected. Though it would have been nice to get a win, the performance against Tonga is a positive position to build off. I’m still not 100% about the system, I think it needs a couple of slight tweaks and I’ll be looking to experiment over these scheduled friendlies. Regardless, after a tough start, I think we are beginning to see what this team is made of! There might be hope for these American Samoan boys after all!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 3 - A turning point?

Following our showing at the Oceanic Nations Cup, I immediately set about organising some friendlies in an attempt to perfect our new system and bring some much-needed confidence into the national team. 

Friendly results - 2021

These results are perhaps the very definition of a ‘mixed bag. The 7-0 defeat to Fiji looks awful on paper however for some reason none of my players had any fitness going into the game - I can only assume that the thought of playing under my management caused the boys to feign some injuries in an attempt to escape my tactics! Just 6 days later however we welcomed Cambodia and managed to come away with our first victory in charge!

In a game that we thoroughly deserved to win, Fa'amoana opened the scoring for us in the first minute, before a late strike by young midfielder Gabriel Taumua doubled our lead - sending the whole island into a scene of celebration! We had done that impossible and won a game of football!


Two disappointing results, a draw against Montserrat and a defeat against arch-rivals Samoa, followed however the performance was vastly improved and I looked out to the 2022 calendar year with a renewed sense of optimism - believing that we had finally turned a corner!


Friendly results - 2022

Don't be fooled, there was nothing ‘friendly’ about these games at all. We started off with an extremely fortunate draw against Bermuda and followed it up with a lacklustre 2-0 defeat to Vanuatu. Another draw, this time against fellow minnows in the Cayman Islands, was a disappointing result in a game we could have won, as we then rounded out the year with a 1-0 defeat to Laos. Overall, I am a little underwhelmed by these results. I was certainly hoping we could build from that Cambodia win but the game against Vanuatu in particular, showed me that we are still miles off from competing.

Changes in the squad

It truly is a dark dark day for American Samoan football. Nicky Salapu has been dropped. At the old age of 41, he has dropped to a two-and-a-half-star player and will no longer feature between the sticks for us. I would drop him out of the squad altogether but he refuses to retire and I fear a riot from the rest of the squad if I don't at least call him up so, for now, Salapu is still a part of our journey. 

Thankfully, his replacement is actually quite good! Coming in at three and a half stars, Ikuvalu is one of our better players (which admittedly says a lot about the quality we have), and I'm hoping that he will be able to keep some clean sheets for us.


Key Players

Our key players have undoubtedly been these two men. Roy Ledoux has made that LM position his own with a series of strong performances and, with 14 pace and 14 acceleration, he is absolutely key for us on the counterattack. Up front, Fa'amoana has remained our only real source of goals - scoring against both Bermuda and the Cayman Islands as he brings his record to 7 goals in 17 appearances. 


That just about rounds up the last two years of the challenge! I'm currently simulating my way through, waiting for the next games so I'll be sure to update you on those once I play them!


tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 4 - The Pacific games

As we progressed through 2023, a new competition arose on the horizon! The Pacific Games, pitting all of Oceania against each other in a quest to see what the greatest regional power is. Ahead of the draw, I was hopeful that we could, perhaps, get a group that would see us pick up some points, with nations like Tonga, The Cook Islands and Samoa, in particular, being games I felt we could challenge in.

Oh brilliant.


We got potentially the most difficult draw possible, with each fixture being against a team that, on paper, was a whole level above us. Regardless, with the pre-tournament friendlies out the way, we kicked off against New Caledonia.

Game 1 - New Caledonia


No surprises here as New Caledonia swept us aside in a comfortable 2-0 win. The only saving grace for us is that we managed to hold them to 2 goals as we were completely outclassed. 

Game 2 - Papua New Guinea 

The same can not be said for our second game against Papua New Guinea where we were absolutely trounced 4-0. The American Samoan fans got so embarrassed I'm pretty sure I saw some buy some Papua New Guinea shirts at halftime and support them for the second half. 


Game 3 - Fiji

We picked up a little bit against Fiji. A 3-1 defeat, although not ideal, isn't the worst showing and a goal from Kuresa Taga'i, a young central midfielder, did at one point bring the score back to 2-1. At half time we switched to a slightly more possession-based system and actually looked semi-decent so that may be something I experience with in the future. 


Game 4 - Tahiti

Our final game saw us once again lose fairly convincingly to a very solid Tahiti side. The shorter passing system once again looked promising as we were able to fasten several decent chances however we were unable to put them away. A goal from our striking superstar Chris Fa'amoana at least gave us something to cheer about however another defeat saw us confirm our winless tournament.


Final standings 

Sitting bottom with 0 points may not look great but it is important to remember we were given an absolutely horrid group. Hopefully in 4 years' time (assuming I haven't been fired) our Pacific Cup group will be slightly kinder. Regardless, I think my next aim should just be to try and win another game! So i'll push on and I'll be sure to update you all if that happens!



tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 5 - An unexpected turn!

I don’t quite know how to tell you guys this but …




Now don’t get me wrong, I know these are only friendly matches but, after three years of defeat after defeat, winning had been a long-forgotten feeling. Macau, The Bahamas and Laos were all swept aside as the unstoppable American Samoan footballing machine powered on! 


The new superstars

During my time in charge, we have long been carried by the goals of Chris Fa'amoana . These friendlies, however, saw the rise of some new heroes!

For many years, MJ Faoa-Danielson has been an underwhelming figure. In these recent friendlies, however, he exploded into goalscoring form - scoring 4 goals in 4 games including a match-winning brace against Laos!

Takai Pouli has emerged as our star central midfielder. With decent first touch and passing, he has the attributes to play a crucial role in this team and I'm hoping he'll be able to continue his fine form in the upcoming Oceanic Nations Cup.

Finally, we have Gogo Poasa who, aside from having a phenomenal name, stapped himself as a rock in the heart of our defence. With 5 caps under his belt, I am hoping he will continue to shine for us for many years. 


The Oceanic Nations Cup

These recent wins set us up quite nicely for our upcoming Nations cup competition. Entering the first round with Tonga, Cook Islands and Samoa, I am quietly optimistic about our chances of progression!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 6 - rock bottom

Remember in my previous post when I spoke at length about the optimism I had going into this tournament? 

Rock bottom of the group and our World Cup dream in shatters. This was the first time I had really gotten frustrated with the boys as, although the score lines may not show it, stats wise we were on top of every game. 

I’m not too sure where to go from here. I think I’m going to stick with this tactic until the next competition and if we still don’t see any improvements then go back to the drawing board. A little frustrating because I thought we had really turned a corner but I’m still excited. It’s a young squad and I think if we can just master a tactic then we’ll have a real good chance of qualifying for the next round in 4 years' time. The wait for a first competitive win goes on!


tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 7 - A new era?

Following our disastrous showing in the Oceanic Nations Cup, we had a 3-year wait before our next set of competitive games. 

2025 friendlies

2026 friendlies

A promising 2025 campaign was undermined by a disastrous 2026 season, where we lost every single game. The real story, however, was the new faces introduced to the squad. The regens have arrived!


A new generation 

Antonio Poasa - Poasa was a player who had been in my squad since the age of 16 and, now 21, he has established himself as a key player in my side. After an underwhelming spell at defensive midfield, I will be trying him out as a centre-back or the upcoming tournament. His lack of height does concern me slightly however he is still a serious upgrade on any of our other defenders. 

Jermaine Tapusoa - At just 18, Tapusoa has established himself as my key midefield player. Part of his appeal is the vast amount of roles he can play, making him a very versatile option, and he has proved himself to be something of a goalscorer - grabbing 2 goals in his 14 international appearances. 


Ene Ashley - A new face to the squad, Ashley will immediately slot himself into that right-back spot. Very excited to see what he has got to offer.



Paul Moe - It's a similar story for Paul Moe, who will slot in on that right-hand side of midfield and will hopefully offer us a bit more going forward.



Dennis Robinson - Finally, we have Dennis Robinson - a player I am very excited about. He is the first real quality attacking midfielder that has come through and, with 2 goals in 2 appearances, he certainly is one to watch for the upcoming competitive games. 


The Pacific Games

Thankfully, we were given a slightly kinder Pacific Games draw than 4 years ago! Although New Caledonia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands would provide a tough test, Samoa and Tonga were certainly games I was looking to get a result from. With a renewed sense of optimism, we started our first game against New Caledonia.

Match 1 - New Caledonia

Wow!! A late equaliser by Ueli Vaieli saw us secure a very impressive 2-2 draw against New Caledonia. Although we were leading for the majority of the game, a draw is still a very impressive result and this sees us gain our first competitive points! It only took us 7 years!


Match 2 - Fiji

We followed that up with another impressive performance against Fiji. Although we eventually succumbed to a defeat, it was an impressive showing that gave me a sense of confidence going into our next match against arch-rivals Samoa. 


Match 3 - Samoa

We were left heartbroken by a late Samoan goal that saw them snatch all 3 points from us. Once again we just couldn't take our chances and the wait for a first competitive win went on.


Match 4 - The Solomon Islands

Nothing much to say here. Completely outclassed and a disappointing result. 


Match 5 - Tonga 

And there it is!! Our first competitive win!!! Goals from Fa'amoana and the two new boys Robinson and Moe saw us cruise to a comfortable 3-1! 

Ultimately, we were a long way off qualifying for the next round however 4 points and our first competitive win is still a showing we can take a lot of pride in! With the new generation of American Samoan talent only improving we approach the upcoming 2028 World Cup Qualify games with optimism! 


Let's see how we do!!!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 8 - Road to the World Cup?

It was time. The competition that every kid dreams about playing in… The World Cup!  For us, the competition started in 2028, in the first qualifying round, where we would come up against Tonga, The Cook Islands and Samoa.

New faces

Ahead of the competition, we were blessed with a very strong youth intake - introducing us to a new superstar.

Meet Nicky Vaial'i, perhaps the first functioning footballer we have ever had.  With 14 pace, 12 dribbling and 12 first touch he has all the foundations to become a quality winger. He goes straight into our team and, at just 16, looks set to be a stalwart in the side for the foreseeable future.


He was joined by Ene Leatualevao, a young striker who, despite not being as good as Vaial'i, still possesses a number of promising attributes. The 5 finishing is obviously a concern however, with a solid first touch and decent dribbling, I decided he would be the man to lead the line for our world cup qualifiers. 

The world cup

Tonga, The Cook Islands and Samoa - the 3 teams that stood between us and the next qualifying round!  Let's get started!


Match 1 - Tonga

An unbeaten start to our World Cup journey as we drew 1-1 against Tonga. Chris Fa'amoana came off the bench to cancel out a late Tongan goal. Not the greatest start but it's already a point more than we had 4 years ago so I can only be happy!


Match 2 - The Cook Islands

This happiness was quickly shattered as we well to a disappointing 3-1 defeat to the Cook Islands. The red card didn't help but, truth be told, we were way out of this game. We approached our final game against Samoa knowing we needed a win to give us any chance of progressing. 


Match 3 - Samoa


An absolutely fantastic performance saw us beat Samoa for the first time - giving us our first World Cup win in the process!! Ene Leatualevao, playing the advanced forward role, scored 2 as we saw off our arch rivals! A win and a draw in our 3 games was a solid showing, but would it be enough for us to progress?


Final table

So close. We miss out of top spot by just 1 point meaning our World Cup dream is over. It's now 3 years until our next competitive games so I'll just simulate away and hopefully update you guys soon!

10 years ago
13 hours ago

Great read this, keep it up

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago
By bigmattb28 08 September 2022 - 11:46 AM UTC 

Great read this, keep it up


Thank you very much! It makes the crushing defeats slightly better knowing there are people enjoying watching me lose!!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Chapter 9 - The 2031 Pacific games!

Several in-game years have passed and, despite my old and frail laptop hating me as I simulate through the 10th year of our journey, I felt ready for our newest challenge - the Pacific Games. 


The squad

Before we get into that, however, I feel like it is important to refamiliarise you guys with the team. The last couple of years has seen a real golden generation for American Samoan football - with each new youth intake adding some new additions to the squad. As exciting as this is, it does mean that there is a lot of chopping and changing, with our lineup looking vastly different to how it did 3 years ago.

This is how we tend to line up now. As you can see, Nicky Vaiali'i at right-wing remains far and away the best player on the team. We have, however, definitely strengthened as a whole over these last few years, with extra strength in midfield and defence in particular. A couple of these boys are worth a further look at. 


Mathias Tiata - With 7 caps at just 17 years of age, Mathias Tiatia has the potential to be a rock in the back of our defence for several years. His 18 aggression is both a blessing and a curse as, while it does serve him well on the pitch, it has led to some training ground bust-ups when he doesn't like the drills I run. Am I scared of him? Yes. Very much so.


In midfield, we also saw the arrival of Kueresa Vaiali'i and Mathias Ashley. Two quite similar players, they both go straight into our starting 11 and, hopefully, will be able to shine in our upcoming competitions. 

The Pacific Cup

We were drawn into group B alongside Fiji, New Zealand under 23s, Samoa, Tahiti and Vanuatu. Looking ahead, it is only really the Samoa game I am hopeful of winning. Fiji, Tahiti and Vanuatu are all the level above us and the New Zealand Under 23s, despite their age, still possess an incredible amount of quality compared to us. Our team, however, has improved dramatically in the last couple of years so I was very excited to see how we'd fare!


 Game 1 - Samoa

We kick off our tournament with an excellent win against Samoa! Ene Leatualevao (try saying that 4 times in a row!) scored two early goals and, despite a second-half consolation, we were able to hold out for the win! One match in and 3 points on the board!


Game 2 - New Zealand Under 23s

A disappointing result as New Zealand under 23s swept to a comfortable 3-0 victory. Despite taking the lead in the 50th minute, we were playing well and I felt confident we could come back into the game before a 58th-minute red card killed any chances of a comeback. All this game did is make me terrified of facing the actual New Zealand men's team.



Match 3 - Tahiti

Two late goals by Roy Ledoux gave us something to cheer about but ultimately, Tahiti were a level above us in this game and ran out fully deserving winners.


Match 4 - Fiji

An Early red card meant that we had to play almost an hour with 10 men as Fiji strolled comfortably to a 4-1 victory. I was quite impressed we managed to limit the scoreline to just 4 Fiji goals however, despite my constant arguments to the referee, you apparently don't get any points for that! Another game, another defeat. 


Game 5 - Vanuatu

We finished our group stage fixtures with a 2-0 defeat to Vanuatu. Not really much to say about this game to be honest - Vanuatu took two early chances and managed to ride the game out.


Final Standings

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a screenshot of the final league table but we finished 5th - one above Samoa but dramatically behind the rest of the group. Despite this, I wasn't too downcast. Gone are the days where we consistently lose heavily in this tournament and, although we are a long way off from getting results, we are at least a much more competitive side than we were several years ago. With this in mind, I am hoping we will finally be able to get through the first round of World Cup Qualifying next year! Look out for that in the next post which, hopefully, will be up soon!

tom blanche
5 years ago
9 months ago

Part 10 - the 2032 World Cup!

It's that time again - World Cup qualifying! This is our 3rd attempt at making it through the 1st qualifying round and, after missing out on the top spot by just a point 4 years ago, I went into this competition hopeful that this could be the year we finally get through!

With the standard group of Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa, our World Cup campaign begins!!


Match 1 - Tongo

Wow! We absolutely blew Tonga out of the water with an extremely impressive 6-0 victory! A whole variety of goalscorers rounded up an extremely nice day at the office which saw us gain a significant goal difference advantage over the rest of the group. After years and years of being on the end of crushing defeats, it was nice to be able to dish out a hammering for a change!

Match 2 - The Cook Islands

We followed the Tonga game up with a hard-fought win against Cook Islands, coming from behind to secure all 3 points. Two wins from two games and qualification is so close I can almost taste it!


Match 3 - Samoa

A penalty apiece saw us draw 1-1 with Samoa - maintaining our unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying! 

Final table 

Woooo! It only took 11 years but we finally managed to top our group and progress to the 2nd round! 3 extremely dominant performances give me hope that, potentially, we will become something of a hegemon at this stage. We await to see what the next round has in store!


Round 2

Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti are all that stand between us and the Oceanic World Cup Qualifiers semi-final. After a strong showing in the first round, can we cause the ultimate upset and progress even further?



Ah, perhaps not


We end up finishing bottom with a quite impressive -15 goal difference. Upon reflection, we are still miles away from this level of the competition and, although my 4-2-3-1 tactic seems to now work against the smaller Oceanic Nations, I think I may need to come up with a more defensive system for when I play these bigger sides.


Regardless, we have taken a huge step forward in getting to this second qualifying round and, once again, the future for American Samoan football only looks like it's on the up! 

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