Men’s national team off to World Cup qualifiers
American Samoa’s men’s soccer national team is in Samoa preparing for the kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilTM qualification tournament from Nov. 22-26, 2011.
The tournament is Oceania Football Confederation’s first stage fielding American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga with the winner advancing to the second stage set for June 2012 in Fiji.
Thomas Rongen, former men’s US-20’s coach on four separate occasions and also a former Major League Soccer head coach is the coach for American Samoa and headed over with a squad of 23 players on Thursday, November 17, 2011.
American Samoa opens the tournament against Tonga on Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. (2 p.m., local time) at J.S. Blatter Field.
Their second game is against Cook Islands on Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. (2 p.m., local time) at J.S. Blatter Field and their third match will occur at the same time, same place on Nov. 26 against Samoa.
The team returns to the territory on Nov. 27.
“It has come down to a few more days and I encourage all of our FFAS members, club presidents and people of American Samoa to fly over and support our team,” explained FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet. “This is a huge event, where it’s the qualification process for one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the (2014) FIFA World Cup (BrazilTM) tournament!”
“Please, if you happen to be in Samoa come on over and watch and support our team,” agreed FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua.
Support was given in the form of prayers and words of encouragement from CCCAS Pago Pago pastor, Rev. Fa’atauva’a Talamoni.
“Don’t forget we are praying for you while you are out there playing, don’t forget the tapuaiga of the people here in American Samoa for you and especially don’t forget to have fun,” he said during a Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 service the players, team officials, parents of players and FFAS executive committee attended in Pago Pago.
“Don’t forget that you are representing the name of your country, the name of your village, your last name and especially the name of the Lord,” he added.
PARTNERSHIP WITH US SOCCER
FFAS had approached US Soccer about the receiving any help the latter can offer, such as an older brother looking after a younger one. FFAS was not asking for financial assistance but help in the form of training and education local coaches and equipment such as balls, shin guards, goals, etc.
Iuli met with US Soccer President Sunil Gulati in Switzerland in June during the 61st FIFA Congress, and also present at that meeting was OFC President David Chung and OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas.
“First of all, we’re very thankful to US Soccer and their president, Mr. Sunil Gulati, for sending us a coach with such a background as Thomas Rongen has,” a thankful Iuli said. “We know right away that his expertise as a coach will be a tremendous help to us and we are going to take full advantage of the knowledge that he will impart on our coaches and players during his time here,” Iuli said.
As for his first meeting with Gulati, Iuli said it was very informative for all parties involved.
“It was a very positive meeting and all parties came out of it very happy and with the beginnings of what is now starting out to be a very beneficial relationship for us and our big brothers, US Soccer,” Iuli said. “A lot of exchanges have been going on between us, US Soccer and OFC since then and now it has evolved into the arrival of Thomas Rongen to help our men’s national team.”
“We really looked forward to seeing an off island coach of such caliber in action and I’ve got to say it’s been worth it,” Taumua added.
“Our coaches, our players and other members of our organization are all learning and have already learned a lot from him.”
Rongen arrived in the territory on Oct. 27 and has been conducting two a day sessions at Pago Park Soccer Stadium, introducing new training methods in his short period of time. Before that the FFAS technical department had helped out in a group effort in coaching the squad. He was joined by his wife Gail almost a week after his arrival.
“Our technical staff has been training this team since the beginning of the year and got some valuable experience at the recent Pacific Games (New Caledonia),” explained Iuli Alex Godinet, president of FFAS. “I am confident that our technical staff have made the selections based on the availability of our best players.”
Of the 16 that went to New Caledonia for the Pacific Games, only 12 have been retained in the new squad of 23.
“Some of the players that went could not rejoin us due to scheduling conflicts such as work and school,” explained FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua. “So it’s been a constant check day by day before the deadline of submitting our final list of 23 players to see whether they could take time off to represent American Samoa.
The team had camped and practiced at Pago Park Soccer Stadium from Monday to Thursday and will be in Samoa by Nov. 20 at the latest.
Chin Fu TAASE, GK Nicky SALAPU, GK Diamond OTT, FW Roy LUANI, FW Faimalo ‘Rambo’ TAPUI III, FW Frederick ‘Charlie’ UHRLE, FW Gene NEEMIA, FW
Suani UELESE, MF Ramin OTT, MF Ismael D’Angelo Herrera, MF Moe Casper KURESA, MF Natia NATIA, MF Fitiuta MAIAVA, MF Kid BARTLEY, MF Johnny SAELUA, DF Terrence SINAPATI, DF Daru TAUMUA, DF Shalom LUANI, DF Tala LUVU, DF Justin MANAO, DF Uasilaa HELETA, DF Liatama AMISONE JR, DF Rawlston MASANIAI, DF
(Source: FFAS Media Release)