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PREVIEW: HFX Wanderers FC vs. Pacific FC — Match #88
Canadian Premier League

2021 CPL regular season — Match #88
HFX Wanderers vs. Pacific FC
Oct. 11, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET/2:00 pm AT
Wanderers Grounds, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here


MATCH PREVIEW

CanPL’s Coastal Clash will return in its purest form on Thanksgiving Monday when Pacific FC makes the +4,000km trek to Halifax to face HFX Wanderers FC.

Both playoff-contending sides reignite the record cross Canada matchup (more on that later) as they look to rebound from disappointing defeats at midweek through CPL regular-season homestretch.

The Wanderers, sitting in fifth and one point off fourth York United, host top-ranked Pacific after dropping a 1-0 result to second place Forge FC on Wednesday. Mo Babouli’s cheeky backheel was all that separated the two teams on the day. Halifax managed just one shot on target and posted an exceptionally low 0.70 expected goals according to Centre Circle Data.

“We had a tough-fought one against Forge. I thought we coped with it well – except for the scoring part,” Halifax head coach Stephen Hart said.

Halifax’s playoff hopes were reinvigorated Friday when York United, ahead of Halifax for the fourth spot, scaped a point off last-place Atlético Ottawa in their match-at-hand opportunity to get distance on the Wanderers.

Pacific, meanwhile, arrives on the east coast after a rare defeat to second-from-bottom FC Edmonton at midweek. Goals from Easton Ongaro and Tobias Warschewski left Pa-Modou Kah’s side with just one win in their last five matches, though the Tridents do remain at the top of the standings with an 11-6-5 record and 39 points. Pacific has not yet lost two matches in a row in 2021.


Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!


3 THINGS TO WATCH:

  • Coastal Clash road trip taken for first time since 2019: One of top-flight world football’s longest away dates will play out again Monday as Victoria, BC-based Pacific make the 4,476 km trip to Halifax for the only matchup outside of the Winnipeg bubble. The 2021 regular-season schedule, which saw eastern teams face the west in the opening Kickoff event in Manitoba, has robbed supporters of the matchup Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah is relishing… Despite the long travel distance.”To have one of the longest trips in world football is a grind but it’s a beautiful thing,” Kah said before the match after landing on the East Coast. “Who would have thought I would ever come to Halifax – from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean!” The longest away trip in top-flight world football clocks in at 5,255 km when Australian outfit Perth Glory FC heads east to New Zealand to take on Wellington Phoenix in A-League action.
  • Scoring by committee vs. scoring by Morelli: Two teams on the opposite ends of CPL goalscoring processes will meet Monday. The Wanderers are not just led by golden boot leader Joao Morelli – their attack is practically subsumed by his impressive 14-goal output. Stephen Hart’s team has only lost once when Morelli has found the net – the other six on the season came when he failed to score. Pacific, meanwhile, sports eight multiple goalscorers to Halifax’s paltry three – a scoring-by-committee approach surely envied by Halifax but easier said than done as the team has compiled a CPL-most 38 goals scored. Will anyone other than Morelli emerge as a potential goalscoring candidate? If so, will Pacific answer with a fury? “It should be a really good showing for those neutral fans,” Hart quipped about Pacific’s attacking prowess in pre-match availability.
  • Fight for seeding, playoff spots emerge: As the CPL season nears its final month, the playoff picture will only continue to intrigue. Monday’s match is an important barometer for how both teams will take to their seeding, specifically. Halifax, as mentioned, is just two points behind the pace for fourth thanks to York’s draw Friday – something Hart says the team is aware of, but not necessarily relying on: “We’ve talked about that already. We’re not dependent on anybody. You have to depend on yourself and deal with what’s in your control.” Pacific, meanwhile, have been quickly caught by a red-hot Forge team that’s two points behind with two matches at hand. CPL’s top seed receives home-field advantage for both the semi-final and final – something Pacific wants dearly, while other top-four clubs like Cavalry and Forge have claimed more modest goals of just getting to the postseason. “We want a home-field advantage. There’s no hiding behind it,” Kah said before the match. “We’re not gonna lie about it.”

ALL-TIME SERIES

HFX Wanderers wins: 1 || Pacific FC wins: 4 || Draws: 4

Previous match:

July 13, 2021 – HFX Wanderers 0-0 Pacific FC 

KEY QUOTES

“It’s always really good to play the top teams because it’s a measure of where we’re at… It’s nice to be playing someone a little different, too, being they’re a Western team.” — HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart

“They have a strong mindset – they never give up in matches… Injuries have played a big part for them but they’re a team that will do their best every single game so we got to be ready for this one.” — Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah