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Pacific FC and Wanderers to meet Tuesday after storm delays Halifax game

After a night and day without power in Halifax, Pacific FC is hoping to create an electrical surge at the Wanderers Ground.
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PFC head coach James Merriman: “We have to be prepared to play in any conditions.” PACIFIC FC

Nova Scotians, still cleaning up debris from post-tropical storm Fiona, have things on their mind other than soccer at the moment. Yet there is nothing like the return of sports to restore a sense of normalcy to a community.

Four days after originally scheduled, Pacific FC will play the HFX Wanderers of Halifax Tuesday at 3 p.m. PT in their Canadian Premier League fixture. The game was supposed to be played Saturday but was pushed back to Sunday and again to Tuesday.

The Tridents flew from Victoria into the Nova Scotia capital just before Fiona lashed the region and rode out the storm in their hotel over the weekend without power. PFC moved to a different hotel Monday and were also able to train for the first time.

“We are working with Halifax Regional Municipality to make sure Wanderers Grounds will be safe for all involved,” HFX Wanderers president and founder Derek Martin said, in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with everyone across Eastern Canada who has been impacted by the storm.”

The storm has passed but the forecast is calling for periods of rain Tuesday in Halifax, so the natural-grass pitch at Wanders Ground is likely to be soggy and slow at minimum.

“We have to be prepared to play in any conditions,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

“The guys might be choosing the [longer] six-studs for footwear.”

The game is crucial for both sides. PFC (10-7-7) is tied with Valour FC of Winnipeg for the fourth and final playoff position. Valour FC holds the tiebreaker but PFC has two games in hand with four remaining. The Wanderers (8-12-5 in wins-losses-draws) are in seventh place and will be eliminated from the playoff race with a loss or draw Tuesday. PFC wants to be the team to deliver the fatal blow.

“We need a killer instinct and winning mentality,” said Merriman, before his club departed for Halifax.

The Tridents, however, are winless in five games although they have drawn the last two games at home. The Wanderers are unbeaten in three games with a win and two draws.

“There is no time left. We need it now. We need to refocus and need to keep pushing,” said Merriman.

Returning to the PFC roster Tuesday will be midfield-engine Manny Aparicio after was sitting out a controversial fourth and final game of a red-card suspension. It was incurred, against HFX midfielder and former Victoria Highlanders player Cory Bent, the last time the Tridents were in Halifax. PFC lost 1-0 late in that game after going down to 10 men with Aparacio expelled. HFX defeated the Tridents 3-0 in their previous match-up before that, at Starlight Stadium, as the Wanderers have had PFC’s number over the last two games although the season record between the clubs is 2-1 to HFX. PFC leads the all-time series 5-4-4.

Also returning from a one-game suspension will be Amer Didic, a towering presence in central defence for the Tridents. That provides two key returns at both halves of the field with the tricky and flash-quick Canada-capped former Toronto FC MLS-prospect Aparicio creating offensive build-up and six-foot-four Canada-capped former Sporting Kansas City MLS prospect Didic stabilizing the backline.

The flight distance between Victoria and Halifax is 5,832 kilometres, making the match-ups between PFC and HFX the third-longest distance travelled in the world between soccer clubs in a domestic Premiership league.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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