May 19, 2024
  • May 19, 2024
Atletico Ottawa Ruben Del Campo Darlington Murasiranwa

‘Hits You Where It Hurts’: Valour Vows To Learn From Mistakes After Record Cup Defeat

By on May 3, 2024 0 899 Views

This week saw Canadian Premier League side Valour FC notch itself into the history books, but not in the way it wanted to: battered seven-nil by Atletico Ottawa, the team suffered the largest defeat ever seen in Canadian Championship history in what could only be described as a long and miserable night for them at TD Place.

Braces for Ruben Del Campo, Alberto Zapater, and Ollie Bassett combined with a goal from Ballou Tabla to secure a dominant performance for Ottleti, who will be salivating at the thought of playing Valour in league play this weekend.

For Valour FC boss Phillip Dos Santos and stand-in captain Dante Campbell, the days ahead their fixture repeat against Ottawa will be used as a learning experience – and they have to be.

“I never doubt or question the integrity of my players. When they stepped on the field, their desire was to play the game, to win the game,” said Dos Santos after the hefty cup loss.

“For me, the most important thing is how the team’s going to react to this. On a knockout game, by one, by two, by three, it doesn’t really matter – we have to look at things very well and assess where we are today, and work to make sure that we address the game on Sunday with the capacity to look back and say that we learned about this.”

Valour FC Dante Campbell
Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin

The team was captained by Dante Campbell on the night, with the midfielder stepping into a leadership role while Raphael Ohin recovers off the pitch. He stood by his team and gave credit to Ottawa for their performance, owning up to what was a lacklustre performance for Winnipeg’s own, though he holds deep faith in his clubmates.

“I never have a doubt that we have the guys to take them on,” said the midfielder. “I take pride in being a leader, and there’s things out there where I went wrong and I feel like I could be better. All I can do is try to be better the next time, because I know we have a good group of guys.”

“Sometimes in football, it hits you where it hurts,” he continued. “What we have to do is learn from our mistakes so it doesn’t happen again.”

Support Northern Tribune On Patreon

The Valour squad is still awaiting the season’s start for Kian Williams, Raphael Ohin, and primary defensive addition Tass Mourdoukoutas, the latter two of whom were on the bench but didn’t see gametime. Dos Santos does not attribute the loss to their absence, however.

“Rain, sun, injuries, everyone is going to face that through a season – we have to keep going,” he surmised, noting that while he may gain a player ahead of Sunday, he may also go down one – likely alluding to the head injury received by Abdou Samake.

The defender’s head collided with Matteo de Brienne’s as the two vied for the ball in the Valour box in what ultimately led to the game’s opening goal through a penalty call.

That decision seemed to open the proverbial floodgates, but Dos Santos does not wish to dwell on the decision itself, nor put heat on the referee who made it.

“We’re talking about individuals who are in the sport and who are also trying to better themselves, so who am I to have a go at them and to criticize them? I never question their integrity either, I have my opinion and my judgment on that one call, but I’ll keep to myself.”

Valour FC Chantzopoulos
Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin

When asked by Canucks Abroad’s Brandon Que whether this would be a match to dust off ahead of their next league game this weekend – also against Ottawa – Phillip Dos Santos said they team would take a good, hard look at things, uncomfortable as they might be.

“I hope it’s not a ‘look at it and brush it off’, because then I’m not doing my job. We need to look at it, we need to look at what went wrong and make sure that we learn and grow from it,” said the gaffer. “Now, everything that could be related to outside criticism, that’s something that we don’t dwell on. We’re not going to feed from that. I’m someone who doesn’t pay too much attention to what’s out there, for me it’s about learning from the game, from what happened in between the four lines, and try to understand when and how.”

“We need to be composed and pragmatic in our analysis and make sure that we address that and we learn from these types of mistakes or these type of games.”

Campbell agrees with the analytical angle, saying that it’s somewhat of a relief they have the opportunity at a fresh start on Sunday. While he doesn’t want to dwell on how things happened today, it looks like he’ll have to.

“For me, there’s a lot that we need to take from these type of moments if we want to grow. I think that you don’t just grow in moments where you succeed, you absolutely need to grow from moments that are difficult, hard, that could be painful, because I think that’s actually where you grow the most,” continues Dos Santos.

By that metric, the Winnipeg-based side has a big growing opportunity ahead of it: after opening to three straight defeats in the league and a record loss in the cup, there’s no where to go but up.

They aren’t the only CPL side to suffer a rough start: the Halifax Wanderers went from finishing tied-for-second last year to three straight losses in league play and a tough-to-swallow cup loss, this year too. While they had been slow to start in 2023, they eventually rose up the rankings back then, so perhaps Valour can complete a turnaround too.

With Princess Auto Stadium out of action until next month, the team will have to mature and improve while playing four more straight matches on the road. It’s no easy task, but Dos Santos urges them to make the most of the situation.

“It’s a chance to grow. It’s something that we obviously have to learn from, and it’s good that we have an opportunity coming up on the weekend [against Ottawa],” finished Campbell. “If this doesn’t motivate anybody, then I don’t really know what we’re doing.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *