Pacific holding heads high despite elimination: ‘On the verge of something special’

The Island Games have (mathematically) come to an end for Pacific FC, who saw themselves eliminated from contention on Saturday with one game to go in the second round.

The 2-0 loss to Forge FC was a frustrating one, which saw Pacific hold almost 70 per cent of possession pretty much all afternoon and yet fail to take a shot on target in the second half. Allowing the Tridents to play in their own half might have been part of the game plan from Forge, but it still felt like a day where PFC could’ve done more.

“The quality level’s down to me. We had a golden opportunity to go 1-1 at halftime and we didn’t take it,” Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah stated.

“When you have the ball you have to do something with purpose, and today we didn’t have any purpose. No quality, and a little magic was missing today to be honest.”

Of course, it didn’t help that his side, after a very positive start, fell behind 1-0 in the 35th minute to a penalty kick that, if you ask Pacific, perhaps shouldn’t have happened at all.

Kah suggested that Forge’s Jonathan Grant may have gone down a little too easily from the push by Kadin Chung.

“You have a five-foot-eight guy, and you have a six-foot-three guy who’s falling down already,” Kah offered. “He was already going to ground, and if you cannot see that it’s embellishment then I don’t know. But that’s no penalty.”

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Pacific captain Marcel de Jong agreed, adding his thoughts on the matter: “It’s tough in such a big game where we need all the help we can get, and something like that happens. It’s painful. We were ready for this fight, then to go 1-0 down like that… It’s not why we lost, but I just wanted to put it out there.”

The one on Saturday was the sixth spot kick Pacific have given up at The Island Games — far more than any other side. It’s cost them dearly, with a number of penalties conceded taking points right out of their hands.

That said, Kah disagreed that it’s a lack of discipline in the box that’s necessarily the problem.

“A penalty is not lack of discipline to be honest,” he said. “It’s poor but it’s not lack of discipline. When you get sent off for kicking people, that’s lack of discipline. It’s something that we have to work on, we’ve given too many penalties.”

Although his side’s hopes of making the CPL final are now gone, Kah still refused to reflect fully on Pacific’s performance over their time in PEI. With one game left to play against HFX Wanderers FC, he insisted that he won’t evaluate it all until the season is truly done.

De Jong, though, offered his thoughts on the improvement Pacific has made from 2019.

“It’s a big big difference from last year. I just want to also put it out there that I’m really proud of the guys, the way they picked it up,” he said.

“I said it a couple times internally, I feel like we’re on the verge of becoming something special. We’re almost there, it’s just a matter of sticking together now and learning from what we did wrong. I’m happy right now, even though we lost. It’s mixed feelings.”

Now, the task will be for Pacific to play spoiler. Tuesday’s final contest against HFX will, regardless of Pacific’s standing, have major implications for the other three sides left in the running for this CPL championship.

For their part, the Tridents would love to leave PEI with another win.

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