When the players take to the field against Vaughan Soccer Club at the Ontario Soccer Centre, they’ll see quite a few Wanderers jerseys in the crowd.
That’s because Matthew Arnone has brought a number for his friends and family, to show their Wanderers pride in the Canadian Championship match.
The former Vaughan player actually lived within a couple of minutes of the stadium, so he’ll have his own Wanderers cheer section of between 30 and 50 people for the game now he’s a Halifax player.
He’s brought a few harbour blue home Wanderers shirts and a couple of aqua ocean away jerseys for some of them to wear, all with his name and number 23 emblazoned on the back.
“I’ll be feeling some nostalgia, it’s going to be emotional but I will approach it like any other game,” Arnone said, pointing out he was a part of the League1 Ontario team’s set up for about seven years.
Having been a part of Vaughan’s league and cup double winning team last season, he knows all about their approach.
A number of players followed Arnone’s path to Canadian Premier League teams after that campaign but several are still there and he’s expecting they’ll be fired up playing against a professional team.
The chance for provincial champions to go up against pro clubs is all a part of the Battle of the North.
“They’ve got nothing to lose, so we need to come in with humility and work hard and erase it from our minds they are a club at a lower level,” Arnone warned. “It’s going to be fun playing against them and I’m ready.”
Wanderers striker Tomasz Skublak will also be in familiar territory at the stadium which holds about 2,000 people, having also played for Vaughan.
Wanderers coach Stephen Hart said both players insight and knowledge of the opposition will come in handy for his club.
Hart though, is more concerned about his own team and his main message to the players is for them to carry on doing what they’ve been doing in the league.
Getting a first home win on the board against Forge was big for everyone’s confidence.
And while the team go into the match coming off a 1-0 loss to Valour, it was a performance that Hart took positives from, seeing his side attack well from both wide positions and create enough chances to get something out of the match.
“We have played better in every game so far and regardless of who you play the attitude must remain the same and if you don’t follow that, it could be dangerous,” Hart said.
Wednesday night’s match in Vaughan is the first of a two-legged home and away tie with the aggregate score over both games the final result.
The return Canadian Championship leg is at the Wanderers Grounds May 22 at 6 p.m.
The winning team will play Valour FC in the next round.