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Budding CPL derby continues as Pacific FC visits VFC

Two B.C. teams take to the pitch Friday night in Langley
Pacific FC’s Easton Ongaro, left, and Vancouver FC’s Eugene Martinez will renew acquaintances on Friday in Langley. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST)

Round two of the ferry derby goes tonight when Pacific FC crosses the strait for the first time to play Canadian Premier League expansion franchise ­Vancouver FC in Langley.

Pacific FC won the first-ever meeting between the B.C. clubs 1-0 on a late goal by Manny Aparicio in the season opener at Starlight Stadium in Langford.

Aparicio added fuel to the nascent rivalry by running over to the VFC supporters section and holding up the Tridents’ insignia on his jersey.

“It wasn’t planned. It was in the moment for Manu [Aparicio]. But that was the start of it,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

“It’s exciting for the game in B.C. and part of the process of building the game across the country Derbies matter. A late start time on a Friday makes it difficult for our fans to go over [tonight] but those opportunities will come [in future games].”

Some Island fans, however, are expected to make cross-strait trip and the VFC players have concocted something if the hosts score.

“We’ve got something for the Pacific fans. We have a special move we have been practising this week,” said VFC defender Ibrahim Bakare.

PFC comes in tied for second place at 3-1-3 in the CPL in wins-losses-draws for 12 points and VFC 1-2-4 sixth place on seven points.

“VFC has been very ­competitive in every match,” said Merriman.

“This is not a team we can underestimate whatsoever.”

A lot of it came from that first game against PFC, said Bakare: “We grew into the game. We didn’t know we would be that close against a team that has won the league title and has been in the league since the beginning. We built on that and it gave us confidence that we can do toe to toe against anybody in this league.”

VFC features a monstrously sized back line.

“We have a lot pieces on offence to be dynamic and creative in those spaces that open,” said Merriman.

PFC goalkeeper Kieran Baskett, who projected confidence in the crease in the 1-1 draw against the HFX Wanderers of Halifax last week at Starlight Stadium, will get his second ­consecutive start.

“[Baskett] did well and has earned it,” said Merriman.

Vancouver FC head coach Afshin Ghotbi labelled PFC “a great team” with a caveat.

“Their weakness, however, is that they need a lot of chances to score and then they leave themselves open on the counter,” said Ghotbi, who has coached in eight countries, and been on the coaching staff at three World Cups with the U.S. in 1998 and South Korea in 2002 and 2006.

“You see that in a lot of CPL teams. The CPL needs to develop to be more tactical in the ­transition moments. That is the biggest difference between Europe and South America.”