Forge FC announce return of midfielder Elimane Cissé

As Forge FC prepare for some of the biggest matches in their history, a key player from the club’s past has returned to the fold.

On Wednesday, the Hamilton club announced the signing of 28-year-old Senegalese midfielder Elimane Cissé to a multi-year deal. Cissé previously spent three seasons with Forge after signing with the club ahead of their inaugural campaign in 2019. He has played 74 times with Forge in all competitions, scoring three times, and won the CPL championship in both 2019 and 2020, starting the 2021 Final loss to Pacific FC as well.

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Cissé left the club at the conclusion of the 2021 season to join US Touarga in Morocco. He helped Touarga to secure promotion back to the Moroccan top flight, prior to returning home to Diambars FC ahead of this past season. Diambars, based out of Saly, Senegal, was the club with which he made his professional debut back in 2014.

Primarily a central midfielder, Cissé will bring masterful versatility and consistency to Forge. He played nearly every position on the pitch during his time with the Hamilton club, ranging from attacking to defensive roles, spending his most recent season (2021) largely as a right fullback.

Regardless of his role, the Senegalese international is an outstanding progressor of the ball. In his most recent season in the CPL, 2021, he finished fourth in passes into the final third (345), and completed 86.05 per cent of the 1,097 passes he played that season.

He is also incredibly adept at winning the ball back. He led the league in 2021 in tackles won (50) with a 66.67 per cent success rate. He also had 36 interceptions and a team-leading 143 duels won.

Despite a gruelling 2021 campaign which saw Forge play essentially every four days between domestic and continental competition, Cissé led the club in CPL minutes played with 2,038.

Internationally, the Dakar-born midfielder has represented Senegal twelve times at the senior level and won the African Nations Championship in 2022.

“We are thrilled to welcome Cissé back to the club,” said Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis in a statement. “His versatile skill set and commitment to excellence epitomize the culture of Forge, and we are eager to see his impact on the pitch once again.”

Forge FC recently returned from a preseason camp in Querétaro, Mexico, where they have been preparing for the first round of the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup against Chivas Guadalajara. They return to Hamilton for the opening leg on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Tim Hortons Field, before travelling to the Estadio Akron on Tuesday, Feb. 13.