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Pacific FC looking for strong push down stretch drive

The forecast is for dank and overcast today but the long-term outlook couldn’t be sunnier for Canadian soccer, says Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah.

The forecast is for dank and overcast today but the long-term outlook couldn’t be sunnier for Canadian soccer, says Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah.

He referenced Canada’s World Cup qualifying victory over Panama, still the talk of the Canadian sports world days later, the suddenly torrid Canadian Premier League playoff race, and CPL club Forge FC’s determined march through CONCACAF Champions League qualifying play.

“Enjoy these moments,” said Kah.

“Canada must believe more [in soccer] and keep supporting the national team and the CPL. Both are showing the development and growth of the game and what Canada is capable of in the sport. Let’s go for it. Our players are no longer FC Unattached.”

Kah added fans across the country will be treated to a race to the wire for playoff seeding in the CPL. For the first time in a long while, fans are referring to the Island-based club as “second-place PFC” with Cavalry FC of Calgary having climbed to the top of the table with 40 points, one more than the Tridents, with five league games remaining.

That makes today’s game at 3 p.m. at Starlight Stadium, between PFC and Valour FC of Winnipeg, all the more critical.

Hamilton club Forge FC is in third place and only two points behind PFC with two games in hand. The battle for the fourth and final playoff position, meanwhile, is coming down to the HFX Wanderers of Halifax on 32 points, York United on 31 and Valour FC on 28. FC Edmonton and Atletico Ottawa are pretty much out of it.

“Now is the time to push down the stretch,” said Kah. “Forge FC is in three competitions, we are in two and [Cavalry, HFX, York and Valour] are in CPL playoff races.”

He was referring to Forge FC in the quarter-finals of ­CONCACAF Champions League qualifying and in the semifinals of the Canadian ­Championship against CF Montreal of Major League Soccer, and PFC in the Canadian Championship ­semifinals against Toronto FC of MLS on Nov. 3 at BMO Field.

“This stretch drive is what you live for in soccer,” said Kah.

“It’s going to be a tight race for the CPL Final Four. It’s why you play the game. You want these moments.”

Valour FC comes to the Island today following a 3-1 upset ­victory over two-time defending CPL champion Forge FC while PFC is riding its first two-game losing streak of the season.

“You can see how the change of coaches has given Valour a different game, so we have to be ready,” said Kah.

Phillip Dos Santos replaced Rob Gale as head coach and GM of a struggling Valour FC club on Sept. 23. Dos Santos was assistant coach in the MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps with brother Marc the head coach. Ironically, it was the Whitecaps loss to PFC in the opening round of the Canadian Championship that precipitated the firing of both Dos Santos brothers by the Whitecaps. Phillip Dos Santos returns today to the site of that ’Caps loss to the Tridents. Albeit with a different team, he will certainly be looking to avenge that defeat today on a personal level.

PFC, meanwhile, will be trying to halt its recent skid and continue its quest for first place and home-field advantage throughout the CPL playoffs.

“Our last two games were our first two defeats in a row and the boys are hungry,” said Kah.

“We are a resilient squad and will be looking to bounce back.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com