Forge FC add Corsican centre back, McMaster star through U SPORTS draft


Published January 20, 2022 at 9:41 pm

(inTheHammer photo)

Forge FC’s hopefuls for their fourth season will include centre back Guillaume Pianelli and hometown midfielder Mohamed Alshakman, who were added through the CPL U Sports draft on Thursday (Jan. 20).

As the league runner-up, the Hamilton pro soccer squad had the second-last draft position. With the No. 7 overall pick, coach Bobby Smyrniotis drafted Pianelli, a native Corsican centre back from Bastia, France who plays in U Sports with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) Patriotes. Eight selections later, Forge took Alshakman, who was one of Ontario University Athletics’ top newcomers in the fall with the McMaster Marauders, capturing Central division rookie-of-the-year honours.

The two-round draft allows footballers playing in the Canadian university ranks to get on-the-job experience in the Canadian Premier League before returning to school. The Canadian Elite Basketball League has a similar program that allows student-athletes to be in a pro environment for a few months without losing U Sports eligiblity.

The 23-year-old Pianelli, who stands six-foot-four, helped UQTR win the Canadian university title in 2019, earning a spot on the all-tournament team at the nationals. He has made 24 appearances over three seasons (2019-2021) at UQTR, tallying three goals and two assists. Pianelli developed his game on the French island of Corsica, playing with the fourth-division pro side EF Bastia before relocating to Canada.

The 20-year-old Alshakman played in nine games last fall with McMaster, recording one goal and three assists. The five-foot-eight Hamilton native has also played for Sigma FC in League 1 Ontario, which is the club Smyrniotis helmed before seeing to it that Forge were able to hit the ground running in 2019, the CPL’s first season.

While Forge were dethroned by Pacific FC as CPL champions last month, they will head into the season as the league’s first club to play in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Several other aspiring pro footballers with links to inSauga’s coverage region also got the good news about getting some run in the CPL this season:

  • Kairo Coore, a striker from Whitby who plays for the Cape Breton Capers, went to FC Edmonton with the No. 2 pick.
  • Another striker with a Durham Region tie went No. 3 overall.  Christopher Campoli, a midfielder with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, was added by HFX Wanderers FC. Last year, Campoli was picked by York United. (Players’ rights are just for the season.)
  • Mississauga midfielder Juan Carlos  was selected No. 12 overall by Valour FC of Winnipeg. Carlos is a student-athlete at Ryerson University.
  • Brampton midfielder Soji Olatoye was selected No. 13 overall by the York Lions, which may not be surprising, since he plays with the York Lions during the OUA season.
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