By Nashra Syed
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s soccer team hits the pitch this week with a new squad. And they’re ready to put up a fight in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference.
Abdallah El-Chanti, the team’s previous captain and the top goal scorer in TMU men’s soccer history, has graduated and will no longer be part of the squad. Midfielder Jacob Carlos, who is currently playing for the Canadian Premier League’s Winnipeg Valour FC, will not be returning to the team either.
“Abdallah was not only our captain, most experienced player and a great leader but he’s also now the university and our program’s all-time goal scorer,” said head coach Filip Prostran. “I’m always of the opinion that top programs don’t rebuild, they reload.”
Coming off a hamstring injury, midfielder Faisal Ghaffur is looking forward to seeing the team come together to have a great season following their annual pre-season training in Ziontario—about two hours northwest of campus.
“It was good for obviously training, but also team bonding, getting together and really coming together as a unit,” said Ghaffur. “Getting to know the newer guys coming in as well was really important.” He added that the training allowed them to make new team members comfortable and teach them the squad’s philosophy, culture, and goals.
“Getting to know the newer guys coming in as well was really important”
The Bold will start their season with a match against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks on Sept. 15. They will see a familiar face on the sidelines, with former assistant coach Kasy Kiarash now assistant coaching the Ridgebacks.
The TMU men’s soccer program holds a 10-3-1 record against the Ridgebacks. Their last victory over them came all the way back in 2018.
“We don’t want to lose to Kasy, that’s all it is,” said second-year forward Zakaria Abdi. “We don’t want to hear it from him after the game if we lose to him.”
The Bold will be part of the OUA’s East Division this year as the conference shifts back to a two division format. They play two matches in one week, with the second being their home opener against the Trent University Excalibur on Sept. 18.
“I think it’s important to have, obviously a really deep team,” said Prostran. “I don’t just mean the numbers, but I mean personnel that are capable of filling in for one another.”
The team finished atop the OUA Central Division last year, losing to the York University Lions in the OUA semi-finals. TMU’s final match last year was a heartbreaker, as York scored the game-winner minutes before it would have come down to penalty kicks.
“I’ve always just been right there but haven’t been able to win it all,” he said. “The absolute most important thing is team success. Being my last collegiate year, I really want to win, I’m looking forward to doing whatever it takes.”
The Bold have built strong relationships off the field between athletes and coaches. It’s something they’ll be leaning on this season to put them over the edge.
“We’re much more than just a soccer team,” said Prostran. “It’s a really tight-knit group of guys that are kind of on this journey to get the best of themselves collectively and individually.”