Pacific FC pledge to make up for loss of key players to compete with Forge

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If you can’t beat them, sign them. This seems to be the philosophy of Forge FC as it has attracted two key players from Pacific FC.

If you can’t beat them, sign them. This seems to be the philosophy of Forge FC as it has attracted two key players from Pacific FC.

Canadian Premier League champions Pacific FC pledge to counter the defeats of original three-season players Terran Campbell and Alessandro Hojabrpour to compete with the mighty Forge of Hamilton of the CPL.

Campbell, PEI’s all-time leading scorer with 25 goals, and Hojabrpour, named CPL Under-21 Player of the Year for 2021, have joined Forge FC. Hojabrpour scored the game-winning goal last month as PFC beat Forge FC 1-0 in the 2021 CPL Championship game at Tim Hortons Field. This ended Forge FC’s two-season reign as CPL champion.

“We have a goal on our back now and other clubs want our players. I am disappointed with the decision made by these players and I question that decision, ”said Rob Friend, CEO and General Manager of Pacific FC.

“But I’m very confident in the foundation that we’ve laid, and the team that we have, and the key new pieces that we’ll be adding to the team with some very exciting announcements to come.”

Campbell is the PFC’s all-time leader in games played at 69 and Hojabrpour is tied for third at 63 and will be difficult to replace.

“It’s professional football. The players make their choices,” said PFC head coach Pa Modou-Kah.

“It’s part of winning. Your players suddenly become attractive. In 2019, no one was watching these two players. There is no bad blood. I have excellent relations with both players. After three years, they have an eternal bond with PFC with a championship, and now they wanted something new.

Kah said the PFC’s response won’t necessarily have to build on the potentially glowing new signings the club have indicated as imminent, but more on its foundational base that is already established. He noted that the loss of Campbell and Hojabrpour will be made up for by Marco Bustos and Matthew Baldisimo, who both missed much of the 2021 season with injuries, back and healthy for full races in 2022.

Bustos was a finalist in the 2020 CPL MVP against compatriot Kyle Bekker of Forge FC, selected by Canada, while double-eligible Baldisimo was called up to the Philippines national team for 2022 World Cup qualifiers, although that he could not attend due to a registration problem.

“We already have the foundations and the pieces in place and now healthy,” Kah said.

The departure of PFC striker Victor Blasco is less advised. The Spaniard is another original three-season Trident, but has recently been relegated to substitute duties off the bench. He signed with Vida from the top-tier Honduran pro La Liga Nacional after resurrecting his career with championships on the island as an amateur with the VIU Mariners and pro with PFC.

“Victor is linked with PFC for life and we wish him the best,” Kah said.

Friend and Kah have both said they realize the depth of the roster will be especially important this season given the CONCACAF League spot that comes with the reigning CPL title.

“Our depth will be strong, but this season will definitely be a test for our team and our medical and training staff,” said Friend.

The top six of the CONCACAF League 2022 will advance the following year to the CONCACAF Champions League 2023, this region’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.

Forge FC were semi-finalists of the CONCACAF League 2021 and have advanced to play in the CONCACAF Champions League this year, making them an attractive destination for top players.

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