Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FC Edmonton’s Sinkgraven and TFC’s Winter will forget their friendship during NCC clash

FC Edmonton’s Sinkgraven and TFC’s Winter will forget their friendship during NCC clash

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Harry Sinkgraven and Aron Winter know each other well. They played against each other in the Dutch league. They were in classes together as they worked towards getting their coaching certificates.

And, both are working to bring the Dutch 4-3-3 style to their respective teams. Winter’s Toronto FC and Sinkgraven’s FC Edmonton will face each other Wednesday in the first leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal at Commonwealth Stadium.

But, once the first ball is kicked in anger, the friendship between the two will evaporate.

“For me, it makes no difference,” said Sinkgraven as both coaches met with the Edmonton media ahead of Wednesday’s first leg. “The game is the game. Even if my best friend is on the other bench, it doesn’t matter.”

“As you are preparing to coach, you never could imagine that you both would become coaches in Canada,” said Winter. “It is a nice coincidence. But, when you get on the pitch, friendship doesn’t exist. After the game, before the game, it’s fine. But when the players are on the pitch, I am focused on what I want — to win.”

Even if, as Winter hinted, TFC rotates the squad for Wednesday’s match-up (“Saturday, we have a very important (MLS) game,” he said), it has the edge in talent. But TFC is still going through the growing pains of learning the 4-3-3 system. Meanwhile, FC Edmonton, under Sinkgraven and coach Dwight Lodeweges before him, has been working with the 4-3-3 since the club started playing friendlies in 2010. Toronto has the edge in talent, but Edmonton is more comfortable with the system.

Tony Tchani, who will be suspended for Saturday’s MLS match, is a good bet to play for TFC.

But Winter stressed, in a stretch of three games in eight days, he would need to rest some players, no matter the opponent. No disrespect is aimed towards Div. 2 FC Edmonton from the defending NCC champs.

“Every game is important,” said Winter. “Every game, we want to win.”

Winter said TFC has had scouts at the last couple of FC Edmonton matches. FCE has won two of its first three — all on the road — and has been the surprise of the NASL so far this season. Sinkgraven said he was able to watch TFC’s season-opening loss to Vancouver and Saturday’s draw with Columbus.

“We are confident because we have played some good games,” said Sinkgraven. “But we know Toronto is an MLS team. They have more experience than we have. We have only played three games as a team.”

Forward Alex Semenets, who is expected to be out a month, and defender Paul Matthijs won’t see the field for FC Edmonton. Local defender Eddy Sidra, who has been training at home to get in game shape, is getting closer to cracking the lineup.

Commonwealth Stadium’s west side will be closed for tomorrow’s game. That means all the fans attending will be sent to the east side.

FC Edmonton has not commented on the number of tickets sold for the game.

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