Zachary Sukunda wants to achieve ‘something special’ after becoming the first HFX Wanderers FC signing
He’ll go down in history as HFX Wanderers first ever signing and that’s a milestone Zachary Sukunda will always cherish.
The 23-year-old defender was officially unveiled as a Wanderers player Thursday.
“It feels truly amazing, I was talking to my parents and we were saying in 30 or 40 years when people look up the first signing of the Wanderers, it will be me,” Sukunda smiled.
Being announced as one of the first signings in the brand new Canadian Premier League, at a big national news conference in Toronto, is the pinnacle of the Ottawa-born player’s career so far.
“This is a dream come true,” he said, explaining spells away from home at professional teams in Sweden and Australia have been hard for him and his family.
“They haven’t watched me play since 2016,” Sukunda said.
Now his parents who still live in Ottawa, plan to travel often to the Wanderers Grounds, to watch their son patrolling the wings in the role Stephen Hart wants him to play.
Hart sees his first signing as a player who will hit it off with the fans.
“He’s an attacking full-back which I like in the game today. He can play on either wing. I think they will be very excited to see him perform,” Hart said.
Strong technical skills and a hard working attitude are other attributes Hart has been impressed with while scouting the defender.
That’s news Sukunda is happy to hear given his admiration for the Wanderers coach.
“Stephen Hart is a huge name in Canadian soccer, I have so much respect for him,” he said. “That sealed it. I think I can improve with Stephen as my coach.”
Loving Wanderers fan banter
The spirit the fans in the Halifax region are already showing before a ball has even been kicked also has the new signing getting a charge out of the feel of his new club.
“I’ve been seeing the fans posts on twitter and wanted to respond but wasn’t able to,” he said. “I see pictures of the Wanderers flag and it blows my mind some of the locations, I love that.”
Member #166, @senzsoccer took our flag to the UK! Check out our flag at the Watford vs. Liverpool match as well as Liverpool’s Anfield stadium! #FlyTheFlagInternational #COYW #YNWA Thank you Michael, this is amazing! pic.twitter.com/Wbw8pBfKbT
— HFX Wanderers FC (@HfxWanderersFC) November 26, 2018
Expecting an ‘amazing atmosphere’ at Wanderers Grounds
Sukunda first caught the eye as a talented youngster when playing for St. Lawrence United of the Southeast Ontario Soccer Association.
He went on to be a part of several elite youth academies, including a spell with Auxerre’s development system in France, in addition to playing with Ottawa Fury and Montreal Impact at the youth level.
After two years with the Impact’s development program, he made his professional debut with FC Montreal in 2015.
Sukunda then made some big decisions that would take him around the world.
First turning out for Swedish team Umeå FC in 2017, before making a move to Australia at the end of that year, where he played for Hume City FC and then Northcote City FC.
“I learned how to take care of myself. I was away from home. You learn a whole new sense of professionalism,” he said.
His career journey is another thing that Stephen Hart gives him kudos for.
“He knows what it takes to be a professional,” said Hart.
Thrilled to be a part of a new national league back in his home country, Sukunda’s goal is to make a quick impression with Wanderers fans, having already heard all about “The Kitchen” section of the stadium.
“It will be an amazing atmosphere at the games,” he said.
While shutting down opposition wingers will remain a key task for him, Sukunda is also keen to build a reputation as a full-back who gets into attacking positions.
“That’s my forte in the attacking third where I like to make overlapping runs and get crosses in,” he said.
The Wanderers are unveiling Sukunda as the first of what will be a core group of up and coming Canadian players the club hopes will develop in the new league.
That’s all a part of the CPL’s overall mandate to be a league for Canadians by Canadians.
And Sukunda is just glad to be getting the chance to be involved from the start in Halifax.
“I hope we can thrive with the fans and get along because I think this city can do something special,” he said.
The Wanderers will be making more player announcements in the coming months as Stephen Hart continues to build his squad for the inaugural season of the CPL, which will kick-off in April 2019.
The club would like to congratulate Zachary and wish him every success in Halifax.