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Red card puts Pacific FC in survival mode in draw against HFX Wanderers

PFC now heads to Winnipeg for Friday match
HFX Wanderers midfielder Juan Quintana and Pacific FC midfielder Aidan Daniels fight for the ball during CPL action in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. TREVOR MacMILLAN, HFX

This one was simply about grim survival for Pacific FC.

Already dealing with injuries and two players called up to Trinidad and Tobago for 2026 World Cup qualifying play, the Tridents went down to 10 men on the field Saturday in a soggy Halifax after Juan Quintana’s red card at 53 minutes, but hung on for a scoreless Canadian Premier League draw against the HFX Wanderers.

“After the red card, and a bench already missing players to national teams and injuries, basically we knew the game was about surviving,” said Pacific FC striker Ayman Sellouf.

PFC head coach James Merriman was more than satisfied.

“Missing players to injuries and international duty, we’ll take the point and go home,” said Merriman.

“It was an excellent effort from our group. Everyone worked for each other. The commitment to get something out of the game, when going down a man, was excellent. I can’t say enough of the spirit of this team. They have each other’s back. They were warriors today when we had to go into a 4-4-1 formation. They knew they had to get on with it.”

The staunch PFC backline was anchored by Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, who again showed why he had 12 Under-20 appearances for Canada and was selected for the Canada U-23 team for the ­CONCACAF Tokyo Olympics qualifying tournament.

“TMG stood strong,” said Merriman.

Sellouf played through a knock and might not have even dressed if the team was fuller: “I played through it. There was no other solution.”

The injury woes continued for PFC when starting goalkeeper Sean Melvin went down in the 70th minute and was replaced by Emil Gazdov.

Adding to PFC’s physical stress was the 5,832 kilometres travelled from Victoria to Halifax, which is the third-longest trek in the world between ­ soccer teams for a domestic Premiership fixture. The breadth of Canada is a thing to behold, especially for import players.

“A [bus] road trip of two hours is the longest,” said ­Dutch-import Sellouf, who has played in Eerste Divisie, the Netherlands second division

“This travel is way too heavy. You need a couple of days to recover.”

The travel distances in Canada are the reason FIFA recently gave the CPL $2.7-million Cdn in funding between now and the Canada co-hosted World Cup in 2026. The money will be used for travel and accommodation expenses.

“As one of the largest countries in the world, and with teams spread from British Columbia on the west coast to Nova Scotia on the east coast, the league faces travel costs and logistical challenges unimaginable in many nations,” FIFA said in a statement.

You don’t have to tell PFC.

“This [Halifax] is always a difficult place to travel to play. It also takes a while for us to adapt to their grass field,” said Merriman.

And to the enthusiastic and loud Nova Scotia crowds.

“HFX gets great support here. This is the kind of atmosphere in which players want to play. You can feel the energy and noise. We use that, as well,” said Merriman.

PFC went to 3-2-4 in wins-losses-draws in league play. The Wanderers remained winless at 0-5-3 in league. PFC leads the all-time series against HFX 9-5-7.

Pacific FC, which does not return to Starlight Stadium until June 27, is in Winnipeg to play Valour FC on Friday.