Vancouver FC made club history with their first-ever pick in the CPL-U SPORTS Draft.
The Langley-based expansion team had the first and second overall picks in this year’s draft, selecting centre-back Anthony White of the University of Toronto first overall, and Toronto Metropolitan University striker Ameer Kinani second.
The CPL–U Sports Draft is an annual event in which Canadian Premier League clubs select players from U Sports, Canada’s governing body for university sports. Picks were were announced Thursday, Dec. 15.
“Leading up to the draft, a couple of days before, it was a lot of anticipation, a lot of nerves of course, but I guess in the end it kind of, for a lack of a better word, paid off,” White told CanPL.ca.
The 19-year-old central defender from Port Moody made 11 starts for U of T this past season, tied for the team lead.
He spent this past summer playing for TSS Rovers in League1 BC, helping them win the league championship.
Vancouver FC’s second-overall pick, Kinani, has plenty of international experience. The 21-year-old striker spent a season with FC Cartagena in the Spanish Segunda Division. He has also represented Iraq at the U-19 Asian Cup.
In his first season in League1 Ontario, he was fourth in the league in goals with 17 as a member of ProStars FC.
While the goals are what will always make headlines for a striker like Kinani, his university coach at TMU, Filip Prostran, said there is much more to his game than just goal scoring.
“One thing that goes overlooked in his game is that he is a great facilitator as well,” said Prostran. “You see his game, and you see him always scoring, and [he] did so well in League1. His final pass is also excellent as well, he is not your typical selfish number nine who will always shoot and always just kind of take that chance for himself.”
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While his on-field ability jumped off the screen when Vancouver was initially scouting him, it was speaking to the player that really drove home his character.
“We spoke with him and I was so impressed with his maturity, he was so articulate explaining about his life, his challenges, all the hardships that he faced in his life, and what he’s done in his life and wants to do with the game,” said Vancouver FC manager Afshin Ghotbi.
“The fact that he’s living his father’s dream; he had to live with his family for 10 years without his dad in Canada, he had to kind of man up and be the father figure in his family in Canada, I was really touched by his story.”
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