At the beginning of the soccer season, Vancouver Football Club (VFC) fell 1-0 to its closest geographical rivals, the Vancouver Island Pacific FC.
Well, those two teams are going to be facing off again tonight (Friday, June 2), this time on VFC’s home pitch in Langley, and this time head coach Afshin Ghotbi is looking for much different results.
He’s hoping VFC will earn its first win at Willoughby Stadium during its third home match this season. The last home game Sunday saw a scoreless draw against the Winnipeg Valour FC.
These two B.C. teams will be playing what those in the soccer community call a derby because of the geographical proximity.
Now, they went head-to-head back in VFC’s first ever season game in mid-April, where PFC triumphed at Starlight Stadium in Victoria, 1-0.
But their rivalry goes deeper than geography or even revenge for that initial defeat. It is further fueled by the fact that multiple players and staff left the Island-side for the Lower Mainland – most notably goalkeeper and captain Callum Irving, as well as the goalkeep coach Mark Village.
Ghotbi joked that both turned to the “dark side” after spending the 2022 season with Pacific.
As well, Kadin Chung also played three season with Pacific before becoming a member of VFC.
The coach describes Pacific as a strong team with a variety of talent players on their roster, and went as far as to say “They are very dangerous.”
But Ghotbi, noted their B.C. rivals also have their weaknesses, especially in tactical play, and he is hoping his new, high energy team – already being recognized for their strong defensive game – will be able to “exploit” those weaknesses on the pitch tonight.
During a pre-match conference Thursday, Ghotbi was joined by 21-year-old defender Ibrahim Bakare, who shares the coach’s confidence VFC can go toe-to-toe with any club in the league.
“This game probably means more to me than any other game,” shared Bakare. “Our first ever game was against Pacific, and as soon as they scored, they went over to our home fans and they kind of just shushed them. And, I wasn’t too happy about that. You know it was the first time we had our fans at a game, and they come all the way to Pacific to watch us play, and then we lose and they’ve been shushed… I’ve got a bit of an extra edge going into the game.”
After another intense week of practise and training, he’s anxious to take on Pacific.
“At home, we haven’t had our first win yet, so going into this game, I think it stresses more than ever how we want to attack and be on the front foot from minute one,” Bakare said, noting the team is anxious to put on a good show for its loyal fans.
This game is about much more than just the points, he concluded. It’s about bragging rights.
“It’s about proving to everyone in Vancouver that there’s not only two [B.C.] teams – the Pacific and the Whitecaps. There’s three now, and we want to prove to everyone that we’re the team to come and watch.”
The match gets underway under the lights at Willoughby Stadium (next to Langley Events Centre), at 7 p.m.
🚨 All. Game. Long 🚨— Vancouver Football Club (@vanfootballclub) May 31, 2023
$5 @phillipsbeer Tilt Lager, $6 Remix beverages, $3 Hot Dogs, $4 Grilled Cheese
⚽️ vs @Pacificfccpl
📍Willoughby Community Park at @LangleyEvents
⏰ Doors open at 5:30pm. Kickoff at 7pm
🎟️ https://t.co/jTyE6xqD2K #VancouverFC | #CanPL pic.twitter.com/p6fIAtTEBQ
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