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Atlético Ottawa bids adieu to Midfielder Zakaria Bahous

By Joey Huneault

Photo Credits: Atlético Ottawa

The U21 Rule in the Canadian Premier League is quite arguably the most controversial rule introduced to our fledgling league. Every team has a player that they rely on to dock those minutes, and it showcases the talent that the squad has up and coming. During Ottawa's phenomenal run to the 2022 regular season champion title, our U21 talisman was Zakaria Bahous.

The young Longueuillois midfielder came into his first professional season as a complete unknown to the people of Ottawa. After 19 games for his hometown club and another 11 with FC Laval, Bahous had the world to gain and a hungry crowd to impress. And, impress he did.

While providing the club with 1,432 of the much-needed U21 minutes, Zak's pinpoint passing and willingness to try a dribble at every chance quickly earned him a spot of high regard from The Dub. Add that to a bromance with every player in the squad and a warming smile; his status as an icon to the young club could be all but assured. His 2023 campaign was more limited, but not for lack of skill. When Bahous was on the pitch, he brought a presence that helped stabilize the midfield.

Unfortunately, the club and Bahous have parted ways today as it was announced that the 22-year-old would depart Atlético Ottawa. Currently, details are limited, but the fans have certainly felt this one in their hearts. The Canadian Premier League is known for its quick player turnaround and short tenures, so when a player really makes an impact on the fans, it can feel like losing a friend.

Zakaria has been an amazing role model for the region's young Quebecois players and has repeatedly proven that perseverance, ambition, luck, and one hell of a grin can trump experience and time. While his minutes this year may not have been the same as last, his presence was felt, and more importantly, it will be missed.


About Joey

Joseph Huneault is a writer for CCSG by night and a semi-professional football coach by day. He’s been a day one fan of ATO and currently coaches for one of their “Powered By” clubs, the Nepean Hotspurs. Joseph is known around the Ottawa soccer world for his love of stats, whiskey, and a unique sense of humour. You can often find him in the Dub in his red jumpsuit and purple headband, screaming at the top of his lungs.

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