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American Samoa head for New Zealand

They will compete alongside Cook Islands, New Zealand and Tonga in the round-robin competition to see who will will qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany this July.
After training together for the past year, American Samoa are raring to go according to Coach Ruben Luvu. The squad of 17 players recently enjoyed a 3-2 victory over the Football Federation American Samoa’s (FFAS) referees which Luvu says was an encouraging result.
“I was pleased with their performance as they have improved since the first time we played against the referees back in July,” Luvu said.
“But there were still things I saw in that game that we need to improve on. Especially since our first opponent is Oceania’s best: New Zealand.”
The team consists of five players from American Samoa Community College, 11 from local high schools and one who has joined the territory’s work force. Their opponents are New Zealand (Jan. 21), Tonga (Jan. 23) and Cook Islands (Jan. 25). All games will be played at North Harbour Stadium.
FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet says he is confident the squad will represent American Samoa proudly.
“What we can only hope for is for them to do their best,” said President Godinet. “These young ladies are going with our association, executive committee, secretariat and my blessings to this tournament and we are all praying for their safe return.”
Meanwhile, CEO Tavita Taumua says the championship will provide valuable international experience for the players.
“One thing I’m really banking on is the match experience they will be bringing back with them and that they will use in upcoming competitions such as an U-18 tournament scheduled for July this year against a team from Hawaii and Seattle and also the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia.”
Already there are five squad members with international experience under their belts — Filiga Ioapo, Meleane Ioapo, Angela Sa’o, Malia Sefo and Beulah Oney. All were part of American Samoa’s women’s team at the 2007 Samoa South Pacific Games. Three others were part of an U-15 team that traveled to Samoa and came back with a tournament championship — Faith Emboy, Horonaima Tulafono and Marissa Vagaia.
Originally scheduled for October last year, the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship had to be postponed due to the earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga last September killing more than 100 people and leaving thousands homeless.
The tragedy directly affected the American Samoa U-20 women’s team with the players’ travel documents being swept away and the training field at Football Federation American Samoa’s (FFAS) headquarters badly damaged by the waves.
Fortunately, they were offered alternative training facilities at the Kananafou Theological Centre and have since returned to the FFAS fields for their final preparations ahead of the OFC qualifying event.
Story courtesy FFAS Media

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