Changes afoot in national leagues

The national leagues of American Samoa will have a fresh look in the upcoming season after the announcement of several innovative changes.

FFAS technical director Ruben Luvu, right, and competitions
manager Uinifareti Aliva show off the new Challenge Cups.

A challenge system has been introduced into both the men's and women's leagues whereby the holder of a Challenge Cup will have to defend it in each round while a major change will also be implemented in the men's league with the inclusion of promotion and relegation.

The President's Cup, a knockout tournament first introduced for the men in 2010 but not held last season, has been reinstated and a female equivalent will also be on offer to the women's sides.

"We are always looking at ways to improve our main competitions each year to make them more interesting for our clubs and these changes were given an emphatic stamp of approval by the executive committee and I," Football Federation American Samoa (FFAS) President Iuli Alex Godinet says.

"Already our competition for 2012 is off to a great start with the club presidents and coaches really happy about the format."

As part of the new challenge system, three cups will be up for grabs across the various leagues - one for the men's top-flight and others for the second division and women's competition respectively.

A draw was held earlier this month to determine the cup holders in each division and the trophies will be fought for from the first round this weekend. The system is similar to that used in New Zealand rugby to determine the holder of the famous Ranfurly Shield, in which the holding union must defend the shield in challenge matches and, if a challenger defeats them, that side then becomes the new holder.

"The holder will put the cup up each week to be challenged and there is a possibility that a team may not get to challenge for the cup at all," Iuli explains. "These games will be the last ones to be held each Saturday."

Utulei Youth were drawn as the inaugural cup holders in the premier men's division and will have to defend it against two-time national league reigning champions Pago Youth A first up.

New entrant Taputimu Youth will try to retain the division two cup in the face of a challenge from Lion Heart B while the women's league will see Ilaoa and To'omata attempt to hold off Kiwi Soccer.

The President's Cup will give the teams the chance to battle it out for a further piece of silverware and will be played after every three rounds of the national league.

The teams will be split into groups in the respective men's and women's cups - teams from both male divisions will take part - and the winner of each will progress to the knockout stage.

Adding yet more intrigue will be the introduction of promotion and relegation in the men's national league. Each division will contain eight teams and these were decided last season with the top eight finishers earning a place in the first division and the rest having to settle for the second.

The two bottom-placed teams in the first division will compete with the top two from the second division in 2013 to determine which sides will go up or down.

The champions of division one will earn the right to represent American Samoa in the next OFC Champions League Preliminary tournament.

The teams set to compete in each division from August 11 are as follows:

Division One: Pago Youth A, Vaitogi United, Kiwi Soccer, Pago Youth B, Black Roses, Utulei Youth, Lion Heart A and Tafuna Jets
Division Two: Vaiala Tongan, PanSa, Lion Heart B, Ilaoa and To’omata, Atu’u Broncos, Green Bay, FC SKBC and Taputimu Youth

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Updated On Friday, August 10, 2012