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American Samoa dashes Cooks hopes

Monday 28 November 2011 | Published in Regional


The Cook Islands has drawn with the lowly American Samoa national soccer side in its second FIFA World Cup stage 1 qualifying tournament.

American Samoa, which has the unfortunate title of being the worst team in the world, was able to draw with the Cook Islands in Apia.

The team is continuing its historic run and was looking to string up its second ever win in a FIFA competition only days after scoring its first against Tonga 2-1 in the same competition.

The Cook Islands went 1-0 down in the 24th minute of the first half off a strike from Shalom Luani, who pounced on a loose ball and held off a couple of challenges before prodding over the goal line.

Cook Islands goalkeeper Tony Jamieson made a great save in the 31st minute and denied American Samoa a two-goal lead when he went one on one with an American Samoa attacker and saved a goal with his left boot.

The Cook Islands drew level with their western neighbours in the 62nd minute of the match and raised their hopes for a first win in the Oceania qualifying competition.

Unhappily for American Samoa, though, the goal came off one of their own players heads and hit the back of the net off a free kick from the Cook Islands Paavo Mustonen.

The Cooks mounted a lot of pressure on American Samoa but the Cooks strikers failed to score and with time running out, much to the relief of the American Samoan players, when the final whistle blew it brought the fulltime score to one all.

Cook Islands manager Paul Turepu said his side was not able to find the finishing touch needed to earn a win.

We had all the possession when we came back strongly in the second half but unfortunately we just couldnt get the ball in the net, he said.

American Samoa went into the match full of confidence just days after recording their breakthrough win against Tonga.

The team shares the bottom rung of FIFAs world rankings table at zero points with sister nation Samoa, the Caribbean British overseas territory Montserrat, the European city state Saint Marino and the tiny principality of Andorra, which is wedged between Spain and France and was home to the United Nations predecessor.

In comparison, the Cook Islands sits eight positions higher and has 10 points to its name.

The 1-all draw will not hurt the Cook Islands ranking, but it is sure to inflict a morale blow in the teams Brazil World Cup dreams.

Media across the world has taken an interest in the Oceania qualifier thanks to the surprises coming from American Samoa.

In World Cup qualifying, the team has lost all 12 of its matches before this year with a minus-127 goal difference, 129-2.