AS Blainville Raise the Bar in Canadian Championship Run
PLSQ Champions “Paved the Way” for Amateur Teams, Says Macagno
After becoming the first semi-professional team—along with the Oakville Blue Devils—to play in the Canadian Championship, Association de Soccer de Blainville’s journey came to a close.
At the end of the 90 minutes, it was the Ottawa Fury who prevailed over AS Blainville, winning 2-0 over two games to advance in the 2018 Canadian Championship, on Wednesday night at Ottawa’s TD Place Stadium.
Blainville’s run doesn’t come in vein, the Première Ligue de soccer du Québec team left knowing they have set the standard for all semi-professional teams in the province.
“Everybody saw what we did and now the bar is pretty high, everyone will have to compete hard to win the [PLSQ] this year,” said Blainville midfielder, and former FC Montreal captain, Nazim Belguendouz.
Head coach Emmanuel Macagno said it has helped the club to be more competitive as they seek to retain their PLSQ title and return to the competition next year. Macagno said they hope Blainville’s run in the competition resonates arounds the league for other teams hoping to follow the same path in the near future.
“The entire club grew [from the] Canadian Championship,” said Macagno. “We hope to have paved the way for other amateur teams who would like to tackle on professional teams.”
Waving Goodbye to PLSQ
Prior to their first game against League1 Ontario’s Oakville Blue Devils, Belguendouz expressed optimism for some of Blainville’s young players to showcase their talent throughout their run in the Canadian Championship.
“The entire club grew [from the] Canadian Championship. We hope to have paved the way for other amateur teams who would like to tackle on professional teams.” — Emmanuel Macagno, AS Blainville Head Coach
“I hope for [the younger players], to prove and to show to everyone, they can have a place on a professional team,” said Belguendouz, prior to kicking off this years competition. The former FC Montreal captain also added that even for players over 20 such as himself, “maybe we’ll also have the chance to grab the attention of a scouter.”
With the competition giving players from the PLSQ a platform to showcase their talent, Macagno foresees Blainville could be preparing to wave goodbye to some of their players. Canada being in the midst of starting their own professional soccer league—the Canadian Premier League—only fuels Macagno’s anticipation.
“We anticipate to eventually lose some players,” he said. “It’s complicated because [the CPL] is starting up and of course with its financial opportunities, will some amateur players try out the professional experience? We don’t know yet.”
Macagno added that if players do decide to leave the club to a professional club, that Blainville will continue to develop players.
Canadian Championship Expansion
After their first leg match last week at Stade Desjardins in Laval, Ottawa Fury head coach Nikola Popovic expressed his excitement after seeing the “quality in Canadian players.”
Dubbing the competition as the most important for the Fury, Popovic added that seeing the way the Canadian Championship is organized, “it smells of European [soccer]” and it’s a “fantastic image” for Canadian soccer.
After clinching their spot in the semi-finals, Popovic wants to see the competition further expand and see more teams invited to compete.
“It would be interesting if everybody can play in the Canadian Championship […] and for Canada Soccer to give opportunity for everybody,” said Popovic. “To give a chance to everybody to show their quality.”