When soccer fans are asked to answer the question, “What are the most goals scored in an international soccer match,” knowledgeable ones will likely point to Australia’s 31-0 win over American Samoa in a World Cup qualifying game that was played in 2001 in Coffs Harbour, Australia. They would be right when full national teams are being considered as that is the record in that case. However, that mark has been surpassed – a couple of times, in fact – when youth teams are considered too.
The Pacific Games’ soccer tournament involves U-23 national teams. Micronesia is a nation of 105,000 who are spread amongst 607 islands located about 1,000 miles north of Papua New Guinea. The country’s full national team is not a member of FIFA and has only played a handful of games, but Micronesia wanted to use the 2015 edition of the Pacific Games to start building competitive teams at all levels.
However, it proved to be woefully undermanned against its more experienced foes at the event, which was played in Papua New Guinea’s capital city, Port Moresby. In fact, many of the Micronesian players had never played 11-a-side soccer before this competition commenced. A number of them also had very little experience in other cultures, even within Micronesia.
It started out with a 30-0 loss to Tahiti, a country that has a population of 190,000. It got worse. A 38-0 defeat to Fiji, a much larger country with 900,000 residents, followed. But those setbacks only set the stage for the worst result yet, a 46-0 setback at the hands of Vanuatu, which has a population of 270,000.
By far the biggest contributing factor to these incredible scorelines was the fact that goal difference was being used to break ties in the standings, causing each of Micronesia’s opponents to feel obligated to run the score up and beat Micronesia by the largest margin possible. That also meant that, heading into the final match, Vanuatu was required to win by at least 30 goals to have a chance of advancing.
Sadly for Vanuatu, it turned out to all be for naught as a draw between Tahiti and Fiji later that day pushed Fiji just ahead of Vanuatu – no tiebreakers necessary – and into the next round.