Post Match Report vs Pacific FC

It was one of those afternoons when a manager raises his fist to curse the heavens in one moment, and later puts both hands together to give praise to the football gods.

Plagued by more injuries along its back line – and this is a storyline playing on repeat for Valour FC – Winnipeg’s Canadian Premier League rallied from a 1-nil hole to play Pacific FC to a 1-1 draw in front of 2,777 on a perfect Saturday afternoon at IG Field.

The result now gives Valour seven points on one win and four draws against one defeat, good for third spot in the CPL tables, while Pacific is second – one point behind defending champion Forge FC — at 3-2-1 and 11 points.

“With the circumstances we faced, we went out there and fought for each other,” said Valour winger and goal scorer Pacifique Niyongabire. “I mean, I know it’s only a point, especially with the circumstances.

“I’ve never seen that. It’s a first time for me.”

‘That’ is the ridiculous list of injuries to the defender group. A back line already missing Guillaume Pianelli, Matthew Chandler and veteran Andrew Jean-Baptiste – and with midfielder/defender Dante Campbell serving a one-game suspension — then saw Abdou Samake suddenly scratched from the lineup in the warmup with his replacement Jordan Haynes, forced to exit the game in the 32nd minute after a suspected hamstring injury.

That chain of events meant prospect Eskander Mzoughi entered the game at right back, with Andy Baquero moving into the middle alongside Klaidi Cela on the same flank as Matteo de Brienne.
Given all that, a home draw normally frowned upon felt more like a point earned than two lost.

“On our behalf, we’re very proud of the players,” said assistant coach Daryl Fordyce who, along with Jay Bhindi, managed the team while GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos was in Europe earning his UEFA Pro license. “They kept going, they kept going. We said to the players inside the locker room, ‘What a mentally strong, tough group that we have.’ That’s something to be proud of, for sure, because you see the circumstances when Abdou goes down in the warm-up and then Jordan goes in and Andy’s in at the back line well and you’re shuffling the pack.

“But the boys stuck at it. They were excellent today and they kept going. Tough game… Pacific’s a tough team, but I’m very proud of the resilience we showed today.”

Pacific opened the scoring in the 49th minute when Sean Young hammered a shot right over Rayane Yesli’s head for a 1-nil advantage.

That set up some brilliance for Niyongabire – who has been so dangerous all season – in the 69th minute for his first CPL goal and an epic celebration.

“I’ve played a few games now and it’s just a goal I really needed for confidence and just to boost the team,” Niyongabire said. “The team is getting really hammered and it was just a booster, it lifted the team and everybody’s spirits. Yeah, it was a goal I really needed.”

Both sides also hit the woodwork once, with Pacific generating 15 shots, five on target, with Valour managing eight shots, two of them on goal. Valour also managed 60.3 % of possession.

The road point was also well earned for Pacific, who chose to leave regulars Manny Aparicio, captain Josh Heard, defenders Amer Didic and Thomas Meilleur-Giguere and goalkeeper Emil Gazdov in Victoria in preparation for Wednesday’s Canadian Championship semi-final match against Vancouver Whitecaps at Starlight Stadium.

Fordyce said Samake and Haynes will be further evaluated by the medical staff on Sunday. It’s uncertain whether either one would be available for next weekend’s trip to face Vancouver FC on the west coast.

“Obviously we’re struggling a little bit at the back with bodies,” said Fordyce. “But the boys don’t feel sorry for themselves. They get up, they go again, and they continue to go until that referee blows the whistle and that’s why I’m very, very proud of them.”


-Haynes was making his first start of the season before being injured.

-Marcello Polisi made his Valour debut in the midfield and played the entire game.

-Pacific had entered the match having scored eight goals in its two previous contests, with their back-to-back 4-1 wins a first in CPL history.




Valour FC

68:17’: Pacifique Niyongabire (assist: Klaidi Cela)

Pacific FC

48:39: Sean Young


Valour FC:

65:41’: Diego Gutiérrez (yellow, argument)

Pacific FC

71:37’: Sean Young (yellow, reckless offence)

72:46’: Steffen Yeates (yellow, tactical foul)

90:46’: Cédric Toussaint (yellow, reckless offence)

92:52’: Paul Amedume (yellow, reckless offence)


GK Rayane Yesli

D Andy Baquero

D Klaidi Cela

D Jordan Haynes

D Matteo de Brienne

MF Diego Gutiérrez (C)

MF Marcello Polisi

MF Juan Pablo Sanchez

FW Kian Williams

FW Pacifique Niyongabire

F Anthony Novak

Valour substitutions:

31:08’: on Eskander Mzoughi; off Jordan Haynes

54:27’: on Jaime Siaj; off Anthony Novak

82:40’: on Walter Poncé; off Juan-Pablo Sanchez