Vancouver FC

Vancouver FC Add Two Assistant Coaches Ahead of 2024 CPL Season

February 21, 2024 - Canadian Premier League (CPL)
Vancouver FC News Release

Langley, BC - Vancouver FC today announced it has added Marco Ferreira and Azad Palani as assistant coaches ahead of the 2024 Canadian Premier League (CPL) season.

Ferreira and Palani join Head Coach Afshin Ghotbi and Goalkeeping Coach Mark Village on VFC's coaching staff for the club's second season.

"I am very excited to add both an international coach and a local coach to my team this season," said Ghotbi.

Ferreira, 59, has worked as both an assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach since 2000, which he began after retiring from a 17-year playing career that saw him mind the net for various Brazilian clubs and represent the country in the 1992 Olympics where he secured a 2-0 victory in his lone appearance. Ferreira got his start as a goalkeeping coach in Korea's domestic soccer league, K League, with Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Chunnam Dragons, before joining the South Korean National Team in the same role in 2004. That year, Ferreira returned to the Olympics as part of the staff that led South Korea to the quarter-finals.

"I am thrilled to bring Cossa [Marco], who I have known and worked on-and-off with for more than two decades, to Vancouver," said Ghotbi.

Ferreira has coached alongside Ghotbi in more than 200 matches, first joining forces in 2008 for a few months at Persepolis FC in Iran's Persian Gulf Pro League before reconnecting at Shimizu S-Pulse in 2013 in Japan. The pair went on to coach together for the next eight years at Buriram United in Thailand, Shijiazhuang Ever Bright FC in China, and Foolad Khuzestan FC in Iran.

Ferreira has also previously worked as a goalkeeping coach for Al-Dhafra FC of the UAE First Division League. Most recently, Ferreira was the goalkeeping coach for China's Women's national team who participated in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

"Cossa [Marco] has worked in more than eight counties across two continents for national and club teams and I'm certain that his vast international experience will be invaluable to the growth of VFC's technical staff," said Ghotbi.

Palani, 39, joins Vancouver with extensive experience on the local soccer scene, both as a coach and as a player. Palani began his coaching career with Surrey FC in 2010 before transitioning to Langley United Soccer Association (LUSA) in 2013, where - with the help of LUSA's technical director and Palani's mentor, Mark Parker - he rose to assistant technical director at the youth club. Palani will maintain his role as assistant technical director with LUSA to foster further collaboration between LUSA and VFC which enables both clubs to thrive together while doing more within the local soccer community.

Palani was also an assistant coach for TSS Rovers of League1 BC for the 2023 season, as part of the staff that led the squad to the quarter-finals of the 2023 Canadian Championship following an historic win over Valour FC.

As a player, Palani participated in youth soccer throughout the Lower Mainland from the age of 13 after his family moved to Surrey, B.C. in 1998. Palani represented the youth provincial team for B.C. and received an invitation to a Canada U-17 identification camp in 2000. The Kurdish-Canadian coach went on to play collegiate soccer at Douglas College where he won the Provincial Championships in 2004.

At various times from 2002 to 2018, Palani played amateur soccer with Coquitlam Metro-Ford SC (CMFSC) and Surrey FC Pegasus of the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL), and Langley United Premier in the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL). In 2011, Palani won the Adult Provincial Championship with Surrey FC Pegasus to earn an appearance in the Toyota National Championship, where he finished second for the Challenge Trophy. Palani continues to coach for Langley United Premier to this day.

"Azad has played a big role in the development of football in the local community," said Ghotbi. "I am happy to add a young, talented, energetic and charismatic coach to our staff. He will play an important role in supporting me with group and individual training, and I believe he will contribute to our continual growth as a football club."

Ferreira and Palani have joined Vancouver's squad in preparation for VFC's 2024 CPL season, which begins on Apr. 14 at Willoughby Park against Valour FC. Tickets to Vancouver's season opener and all other home matches can be purchased online.

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