All eyes will be on Papua New Guinea’s number nine when they take on Tahiti in their final Group A clash at Stade Pater in Papeete tonight, with super-sub Barthy Kerobin determined to find the net for a third match in a row.
“I’ve come to win the golden boot so today I’m going to score three goals to beat Tahiti three goals to nil,” he said.
Despite his dominance in the middle of the park throughout the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship, Kerobin first kicked a ball only three years ago when he joined his local club Panama United.
Now playing for Nabasa Football Club, Kerobin was surprised to get the call-up for the U-17 national team but honoured to achieve the milestone so early in his football career.
“Since I started playing I have dreamed of one day representing my country, so I’m proud,” he said.
“I was so proud of myself because this was my dream. Having the opportunity to come here, that’s a big thing in my life.”
Kerobin made his mark in the competition’s history books when he was called off the bench and into action in the 36th minute of Papua New Guinea’s first match against New Caledonia, finding the net in the 64th minute.
“I felt a little bit nervous coming on, but now people call me the super-sub. It all happened so fast.”
The scoring streak continued for Kerobin when he played the full 90 minutes for Papua New Guinea in their second match against Vanuatu. The 16-year-old scored in the additional time of both halves, inching Papua New Guinea one goal ahead of their opponent after each sinking.
Despite Vanuatu equalising in the last minute to end the match at 3-3, Kerobin was encouraged to hear positive reactions from back home.
“I felt very happy and my parents, too, were very happy,” he said.
“There have been some good comments about me, about how my country is so proud of me. I’m going to keep working going to make my country proud of me.”
Kerobin now awaits his nation’s 7pm kick-off against hosts Tahiti in their last match of Group A, where the two sides will battle for three points to secure a place in the semi-final of the OFC U-17 Championship.
“I hope my boys will play a good game today. We need to work on our defence but I think today we’re going to do better than our last two games.”