“There are no easy games in international soccer,” or so the old adage goes. It’s hard to make that case, however, when it comes to poor Micronesia, the island nation whose under-23 side lost 30-0, 38-0 and 46-0 to Tahiti, Fiji and Vanuatu, respectively, at the 2015 Pacific Games.
Of course, Micronesia isn’t the first team to suffer such embarrassment on the global stage. The disparity between elite professionals playing in the world’s top leagues and inexperienced amateurs working side jobs as butchers and bakers and candlestick makers has resulted in many a glaring mismatch over the years. We’re talking games in which the scoreboard operator was far-and-away the busiest person in the stadium. With that in mind, here are ten of the most one-sided games in the history of soccer!
Appearing in their first series of competitive games since gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan had acquitted themselves fairly well during their previous five Euro ’96 qualifiers, including a home game against France in which they conceded just two goals. However, it was a different story in the return leg when eight different Frenchmen found the net to give the Azerbaijanis a belated baptism of fire.
Played just four days before everyone began tucking into their turkey, this ‘couldn’t script it’ encounter gave Spain their very own Christmas miracle. Going into their final Euro ’84 game, the home side needed to win by a margin of eleven in order to better group leaders Netherlands’ goal difference. That didn’t look very likely when they went into half-time just 3-1 up, but much to the dismay of the Dutch, Spain unexpectedly burst into fifth gear in the second half and scored the nine goals they needed to seal qualification.
So who expected Maldives to appear on the winning end of the all-time biggest mismatches? The Red Snappers, who have never even come close to qualifying for a major tournament, looked like champions when they took on Mongolia in the second leg of their 2006 World Cup pre-preliminary round tie. The margin of victory was even more unexpected given that Maldives had only beaten Mongolia 1-0 in the first leg. To be fair, that game was played at a balmy -18°C.
Argentina had already won the Copa America (then named the South American Championship) five times by the time they took on Ecuador in their third group game in 1942. With Moreno bagging five goals in a convincing 12-0 win, the Argies looked certain to add their tally. But despite further victories over Peru and Chile, a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in the final match of the tournament saw their opponents and fiercest rivals get their hands on the trophy instead.
34 years before adding to Micronesia’s woes, Fiji suffered their very own mauling when they took on New Zealand in a 1982 World Cup qualifier. Captain Steve Sumner, who at the time was vying for a place at Newcastle United, scored six goals in a resounding victory that spurred the All Whites on to their World Cup debut in Spain.
Nearly a fifth of San Marino’s tiny 27,000 population turned out to watch their local heroes try and defy the massive odds in this European Championship qualifier against the mighty Germany. Sadly for the home crowd, the three-time World Cup winners were in “firing on all cylinders” mode, and effectively spoiled the party with the biggest victory in European competitive history.
There must have been something in the Eastern waters at the turn of the century. South Korea’s 16-0 drubbing of Nepal was just one of many one-sided AFC Asian Cup qualifiers that ran into double figures at the time, although the visitors here did at least manage to keep the home side at bay until the 19th minute. Nepal’s misery was further compounded by the mysterious disappearance of three players (who were wanted by South Korean police) from their team training camp.
Having lost 19-0 to PR China in an Asian Cup qualifier just ten months previously, Guam must have been fearing the worst when they lined up against the world’s all-time greatest international scorer, Ali Daei. In the end, the future Iran coach managed only a hat-trick in the 2002 World Cup qualifier, but Charlton Athletic bit-part player Karim Bagheri suddenly discovered some form and netted six in a victory that must have left Guam with an unfortunate case of déjà vu.
Having only qualified for the World Cup once back in 1982, Kuwait know first-hand what it’s like to be the underdog. But they showed little mercy in 2000 when they walloped a young Bhutan side 20-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier, with Bashir Abdullah striking eight times, and even goalkeeper Ahmad Jassim getting on the scoresheet. Their opposition didn’t exactly do themselves any favours, conceding four penalties with blatant rugby-style tackles, while red cards for Sangay Dukpa and Kazang Norbu eventually reduced their numbers to nine.
Australia’s record-breaking victory in this 2002 World Cup qualifier had a lasting impact on Oceanic football. Following the result, a preliminary round for minnows like American Samoa was introduced for future qualifying campaigns to avoid the chance of such thrashings ever happening again. In addition, the Socceroos later moved to the Asian Football Confederation in order to gain much higher quality match practice (and a better shot at automatic qualification for the World Cup). Lastly, the heavy defeat inspired “Next Goal Wins,” a documentary so involving that a long-gone match between American Samoa and Tonga will make you literally jump for joy.