New defender James brings Champions League experience to Hamilton’s Forge FC


Published March 10, 2023 at 1:02 pm

forge fc hamilton cpl canadian premier league soccer canadian national team MANJREKAR JAMES
Forge FC bolstered its league-best defence, bringing 6-foot-3 centre-back Manjrekar James to Hamilton. (@rgfootball_web photo)

Forge FC knew they had a giant Daniel Krutzen-sized void on their back-line after the superstar defender opted to pursue other opportunities in 2023. On Friday, Hamilton’s Canadian Premier League soccer club addressed Krutzen’s departure by adding former Canadian National Team centre-back Manjrekar James to its league-best defence.

The 29-year-old native of North York, Ontario, spent last season with Ukrainian Premier League side Chornomorets Odesa, appearing in 13 matches and tallying one goal. Internationally, the defender made his Canadian National Team debut at 21 years old and went on to make 17 appearances, recording two goals.

“We are very happy to have Manjrekar join our club ahead of the 2023 season, “ said Forge FC business director Costa Smyrniotis. “He is a top defender with tremendous international experience that will no doubt increase the quality of our squad.”

James joins a formidable group of Forge defenders, which include centre-backs Garven Metusala, Abdulmalik Owolabi-Belewu, and Dominic Samuel, as well as full-backs Ashtone Morgan and Rezart Rama.

Meanwhile, versatile midfielders Alex Achinioti-Jönsson and Kwasi Poku spent nearly all of last season as defenders as the club battled back-line injuries and had a very deep group of midfielders. Achinioti-Jönsson was so effective as a centre-back that he earned CPL Defender of the Year honours. Poku turned heads, but as a left-back, and started for Canada’s Under-19 National Team in 2022. Poku was also invited for a trial with reigning Swedish champion BK Hacken last January.

With James in the mix, Forge has plenty of options as they look for their third CPL title in four seasons. The Hammers will also have their sights set on Concacaf competition and the Canadian Championship, one year after falling short in penalties against Toronto FC in the Final.

James played with Superligaen club Vejle Boldklub in 2021, appearing in 16 matches for the club. Prior to that, he spent four years with top Superligaen side FC Midtjylland, making 18 appearances for the first team, including one UEFA Champions League appearance, before James was loaned to Super League 1 side PAS Lamia 1964 for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

The 6-foot-3 defender also spent time with Danish second-tier club FC Fredericia, making 20 appearances, registering one goal and one assist.

James earned the move to Denmark after five years (2014-18) in the Hungarian first division with Vasas FC (2016-18), Diósgyőri VTK (2015-16), and Pécsi MFC (2014-15), making 103 total appearances and tallying six goals and five assists between the three Hungarian clubs.

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