soccer

Hfx Wanderers announce Zachary Sukunda as team’s first player

Ottawa native joins Halifax, after two years playing in Sweden and Australia

Fans of the HFX Wanderers finally know one of the upcoming team’s players.

His name is Zachary Sukunda.

“It sounds cliché, but it is a dream come true,” said Sukunda, 23. “It is definitely a landmark, a monumental moment in my career.”

The Wanderers are part of the new Canadian Premier League. The league’s seven teams announced their first signings, 10 in total, on Thursday.

Kwesi Loney, head coach of the Carleton University men’s soccer team, coached Sukunda from the ages of 10 to 13 and they have kept in touch. Sukunda is currently training for the upcoming season with Carleton.

Loney said Sukunda is an “attacking minded player.”

“I mean, he does his job defensively, but in the current state of soccer in the world the defenders now start your attack and start your offence,” he said. “Zach has a great ability to pick out the right pass, make the right decision in the key moment and can definitely play in heavy pressure situations.”

Loney also had good things to say about Sukunda’s character.

“He’s a professional, he works extremely hard, understands the value of good relationships and being a man of your word and he definitely displays all the great qualities of a great teammate,” Loney said.

Montreal, Sweden, Australia

Sukunda played with Montreal Football Club, the developmental team for the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer, during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Over the past two years, he has played in Sweden and Australia. He has played for Umea FC in the third best league in Sweden, and for Hume City FC and Northcote City SC in the second best league in Australia.

For Sukunda, it was difficult playing away from home.

“It’s a bit hard mentally when you leave in January, and you’re just saying bye to your family, and you know you probably won’t see them for probably 10 months,” said Sukunda. “I just don’t think I was ready to do that again this year.”

Sukunda said Stephen Hart, the Wanderers’ head coach and general manager, attracted him to the team. They had been talking for the past two months about Sukunda joining the Wanderers. Sukunda feels Hart is a trustworthy coach, which is what he was looking for. Four weeks ago they had a verbal agreement and Sukunda received his contract last week.

Hart said fans will enjoy watching Sukunda play.

“He’s an attacking full-back which I like in the game today. He can play on either wing,” Hart said in a news release Thursday.  He wasn’t available for an interview.

‘Welcome to the family’

Sukunda does feel some pressure being on one of the inaugural teams. The Wanderers want a full team of 23 players signed by February for the season’s start in April.

“It is not just going to be on me, but our whole team together,” said Sukunda. “We have to give Halifax a good winning team that is going to perform for them week in and week out.”

Sukunda, who plans to arrive in February, has not been to Halifax before, but is looking forward to it. He heard the seafood is good and the people are nice, and he’s already received a few messages from fans.

“The amount of tweets and direct messages that I got that said ‘welcome to the family,’ with the word family, it is the first time I got that kind of response from anybody, people saying welcome home,” he said.

“I just feel so excited to get down there.”