2023 CPL Season Preview: Halifax Wanderers

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The Patrice Gheisar era begins in Halifax this season as the former League1 Ontario champion with Vaughan Azzuri becomes the second-ever head coach of the Wanderers.

The 47-year-old Gheisar has a tall task ahead of him as he tries to rebuild the club, which missed the playoffs by 17 points last season. They finished 7th, resulting in the dismissal of the club’s only head coach to date, Stephen Hart. They did so while scoring the fewest goals in the Canadian Premier League in 2022, with just 24 in 28 matches.

Gheisar, however, promises to bring a new brand of attacking football to Halifax and has made several signings this offseason with an eye toward making that happen. This is certainly a new look Halifax Wanderers side, but whether or not they will be an improved side remains to be seen.

CPL 5 x 5: Key stats, storylines & quotes for Halifax Wanderers’ 2023 season

Story of 2022

  • 2022 CPL regular season record (W-D-L): 8-5-15 (29 pts, 7th place)
  • Goals scored: 24
  • Goals against: 38
  • Goal difference: -14
  • Top scorer: Samuel Salter (11)
  • Canadian Championship: Lost in quarter-finals (2-1 to Toronto FC)

There are no two ways about it, 2022 was an utterly forgettable year for the Halifax Wanderers. They won just 8 of 28 matches and had the fewest goals scored of any club in the league, including just 14 goals from open play. Frustratingly, the club was able to create chances last year, but struggled to finish them off, underperforming their expected goals by a stunning 9.33. They also hit the woodwork 11 times in 2023.

Perhaps most concerning, however, was the club getting away from what to date has been its biggest advantage — the Wanderers Ground. Going into the 2022 season, Halifax had lost just four CPL matches in Nova Scotia. Last year, they were defeated six times — tied with York and Edmonton for most home losses in the league — while allowing a league-worst 21 goals in 14 home matches.

Arrivals and Departures

Players in:

Players out:

GK – Yann Fillion GK – Kieran Baskett
DF – Riley Ferrazzo GK – Christian Oxner
DF – Cale Loughrey DF – Peter Schaale
DF – Ryan James DF – Obeng Tabi
DF – Daniel Nimick DF – Eriks Santos  
MF – Lorenzo Callegari DF – Gabriel Escobar
MF – Callum Watson MF – Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé
MF – Tomas Giraldo MF – Pierre Lamothe
MF – Armaan Wilson MF – Marcello Polisi
FW – Tiago Coimbra FW – Akeem Garcia 
 FW – Théo Collomb FW – Alex Marshall 
 FW – Kosi Nwafornso FW – Mour Samb 
 FW – Massimo Ferrin FW – Cory Bent
  FW – Sam Salter
  FW- Ryan Robinson

It was an off-season of immense turnover in Halifax as the club begins its rebuild under Patrice Gheisar. Aside from the coaching change, year one players Christian Oxner and Akeem Garcia departed the club, as did key midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, and club-leading goalscorer Sam Salter among a total of 15 others.

In their place, Halifax has made a number of intriguing signings, adding European experience in net with Yann Fillion, USL Championship veteran fullback Ryan James, Wes Timoteo joins after a season with FC Edmonton and a number of players have followed Gheisar from Vaughan to the east coast.

Coach’s Profile

Patrice Gheisar (Photo: League1 Ontario)

Despite being a first-year CPL head coach Patrice Gheisar has a long history of success within Canadian soccer. Before joining Halifax, he spent nine years with Vaughan Azzurri, becoming the head coach in 2019. Last year, he helped Vaughan to the League1 Ontario title, picking up Coach of the Year honours in the process. While with the club, he also coached several notable Canadian players including internationals Alistair Johnston, Dayne St. Clair and Kamal Miller.

In 2019, Vaughan became the first and only semi-pro side to date to pick up a win against a CPL team in the Canadian Championship, as fate would have it 1-0 against the Halifax Wanderers in Halifax. His side would ultimately bow out of the First qualifying round that year on away goals, however.

Gheisar promises to play an exciting brand of attacking football, which will be welcome for a Halifax side that has struggled immensely to score goals during its history.

Projected Starting XI

(4-4-2 Diamond) Yann Fillion; Ryan James, Cristian Campagna, Mo Omar, Zachary Fernandez; Lorenzo Callegari, Andre Rampersad, Callum Watson, Aidan Daniels; Théo Collomb, Lifumpa Mwandwe

Halifax has the potential to line up in a few different ways in 2023, given the number of new players added in the middle of the park and the attack, in particular. One of the locks for the roster this year will be fullback Ryan James who will bring experience and quality to another otherwise very young Halifax backline. In the middle of the park, Lorenzo Callegari brings international pedigree, while Callum Watson has impressed during midfield. The attack will likely rotate throughout the season, but Lifumpe Mwandwe has proven to be a handful for defenders in the CPL, and could form a lethal partnership with newcomer Théo Collomb.

Roster Notes

Domestic U-21


Loaned In

Tiago Coimbra Lifumpe Mwandwe None
Tomas Giraldo Andre Rampersad
Armaan Wilson Callum Watson
Lorenzo Callegari
Théo Collomb
Kosi Nwafornso

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