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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ex-QPR Richard Pacquette Speaks About Liverpool and Dominica

Dominica's surprise Pacquette (FIFA.com) Wednesday 20 February 2008

It seems that each year a team manages a fairy tale run in England's FA Cup. This time it came in the form of non-leaguers Havant and Waterlooville, who beat Swansea City and a host of their so-called betters to set up a fourth-round date with Premier League giants Liverpool. In the end, the Reds prevailed, but they were breathing a heavy sigh of relief after twice going down to the part-timers.
Scorer of the first goal, one that stunned and literally silenced the Kop end, was Richard Pacquette. The hulking striker recently sat down to chat with FIFA.com about that glorious day in late January as well as his newest undertaking: trying to guide Caribbean islanders Dominica to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
"There's no way to describe the feeling properly," said Pacquette, about scoring the opener on that fateful day at Anfield. "We had gone on a long run in the competition [11 games] and it would have been easy to go there as tourists and just make up the numbers, but we all took a decision to go right at Liverpool."
Go at them they did. Pacquette made it 1-0 with a towering header after seven minutes. The Hawks then went in front again on the half-hour by way of a Martin Skrtel own-goal before Liverpool came back to win 5-2.
Despite the result, the size and scope of the amateur side's accomplishment was not lost on the gathered Anfield faithful, who along with 6,000 travelling fans, waited to the final whistle and treated the hopeful Havant lads to a rousing and well-deserved ovation.
"We showed them what we could do," the former Queens Park Rangers apprentice reflected. "And the Anfield crowd really showed their class by waiting around and giving us a standing ovation at the end - it's something special we'll all keep with us until the day we die."
Not one to sit on his laurels and pour back pints over his glory day on Merseyside, Pacquette, a school caretaker by trade, is right back to work with the Hawks of H&W in the Conference South and leading the line for Caribbean outfit Dominica in their hunt for a place at the FIFA World Cup finals.
Both his parents hail from the island of just over 70,000, so the powerful Paddington-born striker jumped at the opportunity to play for Team Dominica. His first test came on 6 February with the home leg against heavily fancied Barbados in the capital of Roseau.
Pacquette, who arrived just days before the game was one of four England-based players in the team, scored in his first cap to earn a highly unlikely 1-1 draw for a Dominica side ranked well near the bottom of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
No stranger to the role of underdog, the 25-year-old is keen on the challenge. "We knew we were not fancied to beat Barbados," said the archetypal back-to-goal forward. "But I was impressed with the way my team-mates played and the fans responded well to our efforts."
Dominica were beaten 10-0 and 8-0 in qualifying for Germany 2006 by regional superpowers Mexico, so the result against the Barbadians represents a rich improvement.
"Richard (Pacquette) is a tremendous weapon for us," coach Erickson Christopher told FIFA.com, pointing out that this is the first year Dominica approached players based abroad. "He is great in front of goal, powerful and full of effort and work. I only hope that we can get him some more support up front in the next game - if we do I am sure we can win it."
The return contest on 26 March in Bridgetown is bound to be a tougher proposition for the Dominicans, as Barbados coach Eyre Sealy - shocked into response - may now call on Premier League stars Marlon Harewood and Emerson Boyce.
Even so, non-leaguer Pacquette is predictably steeled against being intimidated by high-calibre opposition.
"There's no reason we can't get right at them in that second leg and get their fans on their backs," he remarked. "It's been a good year for me and now I want to make it two goals in two games for Dominica - or three goals in two games."
If the islanders are able to pull one over on neighbours Barbados, the next date would be yet another mismatch for the eternal underdog Pacquette - a clash with USA.
"For sure, they (the US) would be favourites," he said with a sigh. "But it would also be a great opportunity for us to show what we could do." FIFA

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