MATCH DAY INFO
CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP, Qualifying Round 3 Leg 1
Ottawa Fury FC @ HFX Wanderers FC
Kickoff: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. EST – Wanderers Grounds
This Wednesday night, Ottawa takes on the Halifax Wanderers in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the 2019 Canadian Championship. The winner of the two-legged, home-and-away, aggregate score format qualifying round between Ottawa and Halifax will take on the defending champions Toronto FC in the semi-final round. The winner of the tournament will hoist the Voyageurs Cup after the second leg of the Final Round scheduled for 25 September and earn a berth to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League.
Led by former national team manager Stephen Hart, Halifax had the better of Winnipeg’s Valour in both ties of the previous round, winning at home 2-1 in the first matchup and securing the defining 2-0 win in Winnipeg (4-1 on aggregate). Through their excellent exhibition against Winnipeg, the Wanderers earned their ticket to the third qualifying round and will now aim to take down a Fury FC team that has been on an outstanding form this season so far.
This will be the first time the two teams will face each other. The Wanderers who compete in the Canadian Premier League (CPL), are currently finished the Spring season in the fourth position with a record of 3W-2D-5L. All of their victories have come at the Wanderers Grounds (3W-1D-1L at home), making the Wanderers an especially strong team in front of their crowd.
The tournament will also be a great opportunity for fans to celebrate the great number of talented soccer players Canada has been producing over the years. Both rosters combine to an impressive 32 Canadian players for this thrilling contest ahead.
True to its self-imposed mission of becoming a reference in Canadian soccer, Ottawa will be able to count on its 17 Canadian players, some of which have great Canadian Championship experience: goalkeepers Callum Irving, David Monsalve and Jordan Tisseur, defenders Nana Attakora, Carl Haworth, Maxim Tissot, Jamar Dixon, Jadon Vilfort, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and Robert Boskovic, midfielders Chris Mannella, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Antoine Coupland, Protais Mutambala, Luca Ricci and Cameron Shaw, and forward Aidan Daniels.
SCOUTING THE HFX WANDERERS FC
Halifax Wanderers will be looking to impress in front of their home crowd and keep their home form going. Closing the Spring season in 4th place, HFX started off their Fall season with a 1-0 win over York 9 on Saturday. The Wanderers will aim to take this positive momentum into the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
HFX Head Coach Stephen Hart has used a variety of formations in attempts to find the right balance for his team. The former Canadian National Team manager has used at several occasions this season the 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 4-4-1-1. However, in the past four games, Hart seems to have favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation which has given the Wanderers more stability and contributed to more positive results for the Haligonians.
It wouldn’t be surprising then that the Wanderers jump on the pitch with a similar set up to their last match. The strength of this formation resides in passing. Passing the ball through triangles is more effective at breaking down opponents than passing in straight lines, which is where the 4-2-3-1 comes into its own. Not to mention, with so many players ready and available to pass the ball forwards, the striker in this formation is typically provided plenty of chances to score, so the Ottawa defenders will have to be switched on at all times if playing against this formation.
Akeem Garcia leads the scoring charts for the Wanderers with three goals. The five-foot-six striker will be the main threat for the Ottawa defence for Wednesday’s matchup. He has been a pivotal presence for the Wanderers; the Trinidadian made history by scoring the team’s first ever goal and has quickly established himself as one of the leaders of the Halifax team. Garcia is definitely a marquee player for the Wanderers and one to keep an eye on going into this fixture.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
“For us, this is a special competition. It’s the Canadian Championship and we really want to play well. It’s very important for us to be able to perform well in this competition. Everybody is very excited for it, and we all know the importance of this match.”
“We are a team that always plays with a lot of Canadians. We want to have a product on the field that is Canadian, this is a Canadian team, and we’ve always said we wanted to be the reference of Canadian soccer. We have a lot of talented Canadian players we can play in this match.”
“It’s a game that will be very difficult. IT’s a team (Halifax) who plays good football, who showed quality in their last game. It’s a team who can play on the ground or direct balls, so it’s a team we have to take seriously and have to be very responsible in how we approach the match.”
Defender Jamar Dixon
“It’s exciting. They’re a good team. They are fighting for something, just like we’re fighting for something. They have something to prove, just like we have something to prove. At the end of the day, it comes down to heart, desire and the will to win, and I think this team right now has it. We have a tremendous amount of it. We’ve been working hard together as a group and that’s why it shows in the results. It’s going to be a great battle!”