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banner Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Give us Samoa goals
Map showing American Samoa
American Samoa: Hardly a hotbed of football
American Samoan manager Tony Langkilde speaks exclusively to BBC Sport Online's Peter Sanderson about their 31-0 defeat to Australia.

It's half-time and your team are 16-0 down - so how does the manager of the worst team in the world get his team's spirit up?

Well, for Tony Langkilde, manager of Oceania minnows American Samoa, this is a fast becoming a familiar scenario.

  Five things you didn't know about American Samoa
There are seven islands
The capital is Pago Pago
It is home to an important tuna processing industry
It is 76 square miles
Natives speak English and Samoan

On Wednesday, he was faced with the challenge of picking up his players spirits against an Australia side ranked 128 places above Samoa in the world standings.

What made matters worse for Langkilde was the top player in his confidence-sapped team was his goalkeeper Nicky Salapu.

But the optimistic coach must have said something right - his side only conceded 15 in the second 45 minutes on their way to a 31-0 defeat.

"It is very hard to pick your players up when they are so far behind at the interval," admitted Langkilde.

"The crazy thing is our goalkeeper had kept the score down with a magnificent display.

"We play with a fairly normal formation of 3-3-4 and I decided to stick with that after half-time.

"The only real change I told them to make was to be more aggressive and alert and not to give the ball away so much."

Nicky Salapu
Nicky Salapu: Samoa's star man

By the sound of things, Langkilde's side could do with a tactical overhaul of Sven Goran Eriksson proportions.

But his side's problem extend far beyond their formation.

The fact that he has a population of only 60,000 at his disposal - that's 25,000 less than Halifax, the club propping up the football league - hardly helps Samoa's cause.

"We don't have a big pool of players to pick from like most nations," continued Langkilde.

"We will get better by the match. Some of the players have never played a full 90 minutes before this game.

"But despite what some people say I refuse to accept that we are the worst team in the world.


My plan for the next four years is to groom a team capable of qualifying for the World Cup in 2006
  Tony Langkilde

"Yes, we are the newest team on Fifa's list, but we will prove over the next couple of years that we are not the worst," he added.

Langkilde's optimism is unquestionable and, if nothing else, it has put the tiny islands of American Samoa on the football map.

"Now we are recognised by Fifa, it has really helped spark an interest in football on the islands," added their manager, who spoke with mingled pride, humility and humour of his side's mauling.

"Rugby is the main sport on the island but the publicity - even if it isn't particularly positive - should be good the country's morale.

"My plan for the next four years is to groom a team capable of qualifying for the World Cup in 2006."

Let's just hope he's still in a job.

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See also:

11 Apr 01 |  World Cup 2002
The margin of error?
09 Apr 01 |  World Cup 2002
Aussies set new standard
11 Apr 01 |  World Cup 2002
Aussie footballers smash world record
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