ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The date November 11, 2011 will be recorded permanently in the history books of Antigua & Barbuda as the day the tiny twin-island state, for the first time, qualified for the semi-finals round of a FIFA World Cup.
Embedded next to the etchings in the history books, will be the name of striker Kerry “Arab” Skepple who would have propelled Antigua & Barbuda past the favoured Haiti national team with an 83rd minute conversion.
“Coming onto the field of play, I was focussed on the job that the coach had (given) to me which was to defend first and then get up into the attack,” a calm Skepple said following the fixture.
“And once I got up into the attack and realised I had an opened opportunity, I had confidence in striking the ball and it ended up where I really intended for it to end up.”
Antigua & Barbuda, for the most part of the contest, played in their own half as they tried to soak up the pressure from the stylish and passing Haiti squad.
Attempts to get leading goal-scorer Peter “Big Pete” Byers into the game by playing the ball long to the striker were, for the most part, ineffective which left the professional player visibly frustrated and out of sync.
Skepple’s introduction into the game for midfielder Lawson “Boy Blue” Robinson with just 15 minutes of play remaining, however, garnered instant results as the player collected a ball just outside the penalty with his back to the opponent’s goal, turned and fired a swerving shot at Haiti’s Johny Placide.
The goalkeeper, who had been having a fairly quiet night in goal, somehow lost hold of the ball and could do nothing as it slipped from his grasps and flew into the back of the net.
Skepple, who was the leading goal-scorer in the country’s Premier Division in 2010/11, but has been playing off the bench for the senior team since the start of Group F Qualifiers, answered public calls for him to be given more playing time by simply saying he is just happy to be a part of history.
“We are all a team. Everyone has a part to play and tonight I came in and I played my part. And it is not Kerry win; it is the team and it is Antigua who win,” he said.
“So the thing about more playing time or whatever, I just enjoy myself playing and whatever time I get I am going to use it and enjoy myself playing.”
Antigua & Barbuda will now face opposition from the USA, Jamaica and Guatemala in Group A of the semi-finals round slated to commence in June of 2012.