Samoa Football (Soccer) Federation (SFSF) will be the centre of the football world’s attention as the OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup qualifying programme comes to the XIII South Pacific Games comes
to J.S.Blatter Playing Field in Samoa in just 9 days time.

But SFSF General Secretary Tilomai Solia says Samoa will be relishing the challenge of hosting the XIII South Pacific Games as over 5,000 athletes and media arrive in the country for one of
Oceania’s biggest sporting events.

“Expectations from the Samoan people for this event to be a success are very high. Both our men’s and women’s football teams are playing on home soil and there has been considerable investment in
preparing the team from SFSF and the Samoa Government has been committed toward hosting such a prestigious event,” Solia said.

Samoa’s men’s team – Manumea, for short – face a difficult task despite home advantage. Team captain Chris Cahill – brother of Everton and Australia international, Tim Cahill – will be asked to
lead a side with a less than impressive track record on the world stage.

However, the recent visit of both Cahill boys to Samoa shortly after the draw for the XIII South Pacific Games in June provided a confidence boost for everybody involved in football on the tiny

“The visit (of Tim and Chris Cahill) has given
everyone the hope of football success. Tim’s success came from the support of his family and he has achieved some wonderful goals such as playing in the FA Premiership and FIFA World Cup – Germany

This has shown our national team squad that anything is possible with hard work and personal commitment and also provided the younger generation with proof that they can also achieve their dreams,
no matter how big they are,” Solia said.

Samoa’s challenge will be to emerge from a tough group that will see them face medal favourites Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, then face off against deadly rivals American Samoa and Tonga. Samoa
coach Falevi Umutaua and assistant Willie Tuatagaloa will be hoping for six points against their two Polynesian rivals and then try to cause an upset against one of the big two Melanesian teams in
an effort to attain a medal match.

Traditionally, American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga have shared an intense rivalry in all aspects of life mostly expressed through language, culture and sport. Encounters on the field of play usually
produce exciting and dramatic encounters and despite lowly FIFA rankings, the three rivals are expected to put on three compelling matches.

“Matches between these three teams could be the highlight of the tournament for both men and women and they are likely to be very entertaining matches,” Solia said.

SFSF have left nothing to chance off the pitch to ensure the action on the pitch goes off without a hitch. A total of 85 volunteers have been recruited to help make the South Pacific Games Football
Tournament a success with most of those signed up hailing from the island of Savaii.

“SFSF will strive to provide the best service we can to all teams, officials, media and at the same time give some sense of Samoan culture and traditional ways of doing things – we call this `The
Samoan Way’,” Solia said.

One example of `The Samoan Way’ may be how both the men’s and women’s national team squads took a day off training to help SFSF ground staff pick up stones from one of the training pitches to
prepare a warm-up area for matches at the games. They even collected people’s rubbish off their lawns to help raise funds for the tournament.

“Financial barriers are a key challenge in Samoa and at a tournament like this there are very high demands and often limited resources. But because of a close sense of solidarity in our ranks we
have strived to meet the requirements of hosting this event in terms of media, security, liaison officers, IT personnel. We have had experience of hosting football tournaments before such as the
OFC U-20 Women’s Championship last year,” Solia said.

Samoa begin their quest for South Pacific Games medals against Vanuatu on Saturday 25th August, 2000hrs Samoan Time.

The Samoa women’s team will begin their quest for 2008 Olympic Games and South Pacific Games medals on 30th August against Tahiti, kick-off 1800hrs local time, as coach Junior Saago and his
assistant Peko Togaa Victor watch on.