2024 CPL Season Preview: Forge FC

The 2024 Canadian Premier League season kicks off the weekend of April 13, when all eight clubs will begin their quest to hoist the CPL Shield and vie for the North Star Cup.

Here at, we’re celebrating the start of April by previewing each individual club ahead of 2024. To check out all eight team previews, click here. To see all of our season preview coverage ahead of the sixth year of the CPL, click here.

Story of 2023

  • 2023 CPL regular season record (W-D-L): 11-9-8
  • Finish: 2nd (Won 2023 CPL Final)
  • Goals scored: 39
  • Goals against: 32
  • Goal difference: +7
  • Top scorer: Woobens Pacius, Terran Campbell (10 goals)
  • Canadian Championship: Lost to CF Montréal 2-0 in the semifinal

The 2023 campaign wasn’t necessarily the smoothest in Hamilton, as Forge had a handful of ups and downs en route to winning another playoff championship. Still, they landed second in the table, in large part due to their ability to fight their way back into games. They spent a good deal of time trailing and very frequently surrendered the first goal at home, but still only lost three times at Tim Hortons Field.

Once the playoffs arrived, they were a cut above, dispatching regular season winners Cavalry not once but twice — including in extra time of the CPL Final — to lift the North Star Cup.

Forge’s first game of the CPL season won’t actually be the first time we’ve seen them on the pitch in 2024, after they took on Chivas Guadalajara in a hard-fought Concacaf Champions Cup tie back in February. Some considerable time has elapsed since then though, so it’ll be a unique challenge for Bobby Smyrniotis and co. to stay sharp and be in top form by the time the season kicks off.


Players in:

Players out:

GK – Jassem Koleilat DF – Manjrekar James 
DF – Daniel Parra DF – Rezart Rama
MF – Elimane Cissé MF – Aboubacar Sissoko
MF – Matteo Schiavoni FW – Woobens Pacius
FW – Nana Ampomah

There weren’t many moves from Forge FC this off-season, but those that were made could be significant. Gone are key players like Defender of the Year candidate Manjrekar James, prolific striker Woobens Pacius, reliable Aboubacar Sissoko and starting right back Rezart Rama.

But as always, Forge recruited a new cast of exciting talent. Daniel Parra joins the backline on loan from CF Monterrey, bringing a lot of quality and experience. Elimane Cissé returns to Forge, with whom he won two championships, while Nana Ampomah brings an incredible resumé to an already stacked frontline.

READ MORE: 6 questions ahead of Forge FC’s 2024 season

Coach’s Profile

Forge’s Bobby Smyrniotis looks up at the Tim Hortons Field stands after the final whistle. (Canadian Premier League)

After an off-season that saw many rumours circulating social media about where Bobby Smyrniotis will be come April, the answer is back in Hamilton.

The 45-year-old Scarborough, Ont. native is the first and only manager in Forge’s history, leading the Hammers to all four of their CPL titles. He’s been well known in Canadian soccer circles for years, having built the much-lauded Sigma academy which has produced plenty of talent both in the CPL and at the national team level. Now, he’s proven himself at the pro level as well, turning Forge into an absolute juggernaut in their first five seasons of existence.

Smyrniotis has an all-competition record of 82-32-48 in 162 matches.


(4-3-3): Chris Kalongo; Elimane Cissé, Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson, Malik Owolabi-Belewu, Daniel Parra; Alessandro Hojabrpour, Noah Jensen, Kyle Bekker; Béni Badibanga, David Choinière, Terran Campbell

Forge FC Projected XI for the 2024 season

Lining up in their typical 4-3-3, Forge won’t likely look much different from the previous year, although their back four will have some significant changes. Daniel Parra, a talented youngster on loan from Monterrey, might be the first choice at left-back once he gets up to speed, while Elimane Cissé could fill in at right-back. Smyrniotis has used the Senegalese midfielder in that spot before, so it stands to reason he might be tapped to replace Rezart Rama in that role.

Up top, Forge FC have a number of different options with the incoming Nana Ampomah adding to an already stacked group. Expect more rotation from the Hamilton side as they figure out which group fits best together in 2024, but the competition for places will be as intense as ever.


Domestic U-21


Loaned In

Sebastian Costello Malik Owolabi-Belewu Daniel Parra 
Kwasi Poku Daniel Parra Matteo Schiavoni
Matteo Schiavoni Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson
Khadim Kane Elimane Cissé
Nana Opoku Ampomah
Béni Badibanga