Know Thy Enemy: Antigua and Barbuda

Posted: June 5, 2012 in KTE Report
Tags: , , , , , ,

The road to Brazil 2014 begins with a stepping stone.

Caribbean Map

Fine, “stepping stone” isn’t a fair term to use. Antigua and Barbuda are so small, they’re better characterized as “stepping pebbles”. Test your “Where’s Waldo?” skills and try to pick them out on this map!

On June 8, the USA kicks off 2014 World Cup qualifying by taking on twin island-nation Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa, Florida.  The phrase “CONCACAF minnows” is thrown around a lot in US Soccer circles.  No team better illustrates the meaning of this phrase than Antigua.  As you work your way down through international tournaments, from “prestigious” to “pitiful”, one thing remains constant: Antigua ain’t playing.  The World Cup?  They’ve never qualified.  The CONCACAF Gold Cup?  Never qualified.  The Caribbean Cup?  Typically don’t qualify.  To be fair, they have qualified for the 2012 Caribbean Cup.  To be even more fair, they’re the host nation, so that doesn’t really say much.

Now, Antigua may not be an international powerhouse (like, ahem, the USA), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of winning.  Antigua enters this third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying after finishing first in their second-round group, with a 5-0-1 record, and a ridiculous +23 goal differential.  However, this may end up hurting, rather than helping, Antigua against the USA.  Part of the reason they finished with such a high goal differential was their 10-0 rout of the US Virgin Islands – which happens to be an American territory.  Why does that matter?  Well, let’s just say Jermaine Jones doesn’t always take kindly to people who mess with America.

Jermaine Jones tackle

This is what Jermaine Jones did to Neymar for scoring one goal on the USA. Imagine what he’ll do to Antigua for scoring 10 goals on a US territory!

A few last random factoids before moving on to my standard breakdown.  To start: most of Antigua’s players ply their trade with Antigua Barbuda FC, in American soccer’s third division (USL Pro), though a handful play in England.  Most of Antigua doesn’t care about their national team, since the unbearable “sport” of cricket is immensely popular there.  Finally, and perhaps reflecting the previous factoid, the Antiguan national team’s logo appears to be two deer humping a basketball with (American) football laces stitched on it.  I’m speechless.

Antigua logo

A fresh take on a classic phrase. The Antiguan football team – stuck between a deer and, um, another deer.

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: There have been no previous matches between USA and “The Benna Boys”.  What, never heard of Antigua’s national team being called “The Benna Boys”?  Don’t worry, nobody has.  Nobody even knew Antigua had a national team.  I didn’t know until I wrote that last sentence.  Anyways, even without prior historical results, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Antigua will leave their first encounter with the USA wishing it had never happened.

What I’m eating: Antigua’s national dish is “fungie“, which is essentially fried cornmeal, similar to fried polenta.  Sounds tasty.  But America takes the elegant simplicity of fried carbohydrate to a whole new level that Antigua can’t even begin to compete with, with good ol’ Krispy Kreme donuts.  Thus, look for me on Friday to be stuffing my face with donuts like the USMNT will be stuffing Antigua’s net full of goals.

What I’m drinking: Back in college, I decided to spend a semester studying abroad on the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.  I don’t remember much about the experience, but I do remember two things.  One, I remember that I met my lovely fiancee there (thank you, Barbados!).  Two, Barbados (like many Caribbean nations) makes a fantastic rum, or at least rum that tastes fantastic by the third drink – Mount Gay rum.  Antigua has their own rum, called “English Harbour” – clearly a jab at America, using the pretentious and stupid English spelling of the word “harbor”.  While I usually opt for an American version of opponents’ beverages, the slogan of Barbados’ Mount Gay rum is “the rum that invented rum” – a slogan that oozes superiority.  Thus, for one game only, I’ll be abandoning my traditions and returning to my Bajan roots, enjoying a rum punch made with Barbados’ finest while simultaneously enjoying the USA making Antigua look downright silly.

Mount Gay

Take your rum back to England, Antigua. Mount Gay invented you and you know it.

What I’m singing: “Allen Stanford”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

A bit of background first.  Back in the 1980’s, an American businessman named Allen Stanford moved to Antigua.  He started a bank there, offering investors returns that consistently exceeded the market rate.  People in Antigua loved him – so much, in fact, that he was knighted by the Governor-General of Antigua in 2006.  Unfortunately, it turns out “Sir Allen” as actually running a $8 billion ponzi scheme, rather than a real bank.  Oops.  Antigua revoked his knighthood in 2010, but it was too late to prevent me from laughing at the whole story.

After a few rum punches, you may hear me sing this song inspired by this historical tidbit:

Allen Stanford was a Yank who moved off to Antigua
Started up a bank, too bad it was a Ponzi scheme
Yes, we’ve screwed Antigua once
Tonight, we’ll do you one worse
Make you wish we’d never met, like we were Allen Stanford

What to say to the Antigua and Barbuda fan when, God forbid, they score: “I genuinely did not think that would happen.”

Until next time…go USA!

  1. is says:

    A 2-0 CFC Club Championship finals loss to the Puerto Rico Islanders this summer kept Antigua Barracuda FC claiming the final Caribbean berth for the 2012-13 CONCACF Champions League. That would have put a team that just finished its third-division USL Pro season in dead last with a 5-18-1 record into the top club tournament in North America, which would have been awesome and hilarious at the same time.

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