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AMERICAN SAMOA KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY

 

“Nothing – no idea. The South Pacific Games will be the first time we have played Papua New Guinea…we don’t really know what to expect” was
the pre-match assessment for the tournament opener from the Football Federation of American Samoa (FFAS) Development Manager and women’s coach Tunoa Lui.

The American Samoans have arrived in Apia with a squad comprised entirely of the remote island nation’s residents – a true rarity in Oceania
sport. Beyond the accustomed Polynesian modesty, it’s clear that this a fresh outfit with high hopes for their country’s football future.

In a squad where the youngest member is 14, the international experience of captain Sandra Herrera will prove to be invaluable. She is
certain to play a major part, but is also keen to illustrate the strengths of her team mates. “We have a young, but fast squad with some very athletic players – if we can hold our shape
and make use of the the faster players we have, there’s a good chance of getting some results”

Further persuasion and exploration uncovers that Lui has considerable faith in his girls, sharing that “to win a game or two is our dream” –
an aspiration entirely within reason.

He has assembled an impressively tight-knit unit in a relatively short amount of time. Herrera’s daughter Yvette will be a central figure in
Lui’s arsenal, along with goalkeeper Filiga Keresiano, her elder sister Lela-May and their younger sibling Meleane.

The Keresiano sisters are not the only trio of siblings in the wider FFAS set-up however. Team Manager Maria Dickey is the mother of three
daughters who are all currently pursuing higher education in the United States of America. Lui hopes that once they are qualified the sisters – all accomplished footballers themselves – will return
to bolster their squad as they pursue qualification for the 2011 FIFA World Cup.

With the South Pacific Games only hours away, American Samoa has a tournament-opening clash with Oceanic heavyweights Papua New Guinea (PNG)
to look forward to. The motto of the South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 is “live the dream”. In the case of the American Samoa women’s football team, they “just wanna do good”.

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