Paulus on FC Edmonton’s opening loss at The Island Games: ‘We can live with it’

The Island is already playing with a contestant’s mind.

Enter FC Edmonton coach Jeff Paulus, who just witnessed his side drop a 2-0 result to Forge FC on Sunday in their 2020 Canadian Premier League season opener.

Usually a brutally-honest coach, Paulus seemed unusually content with the loss in the team’s first match in over 300 days due to COVID-19 delays.

Something in the water in Prince Edward Island?

“It was just an unlucky break for us. Looking back, it was a wonder-goal (Kwame Awuah’s opener for Forge) and a bit of fortune (an injury-time own goal) to beat us there today. We can live with it,” Paulus admitted

The Eddies stood tall at the back, keeping the 2019 CPL champions to a few half-chances through a middle block.

Amer Didic had a solid game, though only for the first hour. Edmonton played the last 30 minutes without the star defender after he was helped off the pitch with a foot/ankle injury. Paulus admitted the injury looked “a sore one,” but didn’t have an update after the match.

The Eddies nearly equalized five minutes later when Kareem Moses’ header off a free kick smacked the crossbar. Moses scored an own goal with a deflection off a free kick in injury time to seal the win for Forge.

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“I expected us to be hard to break down today. We have a very strong defensive unit,” Paulus said.

“That being said, I was hoping to see a result after that first half  – whether it was one or three points. Those bounces went against us today, especially when they came off the post and crossbar.”

The Eddies saw a few impressive team debuts on Sunday, specifically from midfielder Erik Zetterberg and attacker Keven Alemán. Zetterberg made his long-awaited first appearance since arriving in Canada from Sweden months ago.

“He has such a high IQ, gets the ball into dangerous places,” Paulus said in reference to the Swede’s team-leading 25 completed passes in the opposition half. “He uses his energy well and that’ll be a useful thing for us in a season like this.”

Zetterberg and Alemán connected on five occasions, as the former Canadian international helped narrow the space between a sometimes distant midfield.

“Aleman is a special player. He gets himself into pockets, he works so hard in those transition moments,” Paulus offered. “When you have a player like that with his work rate, it’s clear to see he’s a complete footballer. It’s a player who will get stronger and stronger as the tournament goes on.”

Alemán admitted to a difficult outing physically – attributed to his personal a 10-month layoff from training or matches.

“There were nerves from me, to be honest,” Aleman said.

“It was a little hard… but we have such a good team and we didn’t play to our potential. I don’t think Forge had anything on us. We got stuck in between a middle block where we were too far to get out and too far to track back. We’ll have to change this for the next match.”

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