Oakleigh Cannons plays 13-year-old goalkeeper against Macarthur FC in Australia Cup – ABC News

Oakleigh Cannons plays 13-year-old goalkeeper against Macarthur FC in Australia Cup
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Oakleigh Cannons' fantasy run may be over — but their beaming 13-year-old goalkeeper, Ymer Abili, was still left in dreamland in Melbourne as the youngest soccer player ever to grace the Australia Cup.
Abili, who turns 14 in January, beamed his way into Australian soccer annals with a brief cameo in the Cannons' semi-final defeat by Macarthur FC.
With the Victorian semi-pro side's romantic run about to be ended by A-League Men's Macarthur, who were leading 5-2 in their semi-final in the dying minutes, Cannons' coach Chris Taylor took the chance to give Abili, who usually plays for their Under-14s, his fairytale moment.
Taking him off the subs' bench at Oakleigh's Jack Edwards Reserve home, the youngster could not keep the disbelieving smile off his face as he was told to take over the gloves from the Cannons' experienced keeper Lewis Italiano, who is over twice Abili's age at 31.
After getting a roaring reception from the home fans as he came on to face the might of ex-Man United superstar Dwight Yorke's Bulls, the even better news was that young Ymer did not concede any more goals as Macarthur took their expected place in the final against Sydney United.
Explaining that the substitution had been planned for the final moments should the Cannons be on their way out, Abili told Network 10 Taylor told him to warm up in about the 85th minute.
"I was buzzing, so happy," he said.
There was a nerve-racking moment in the final seconds when Abili looked as if he would have to deal with a corner, but he just shrugged: "I was just excited to go on and make history, that's it."
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But his mum was less composed.
"I was a nervous wreck," she said.
"I've been nervous all night. I'm so proud of Ymer, he trains really, really hard for the last couple of years."
Despite the loss, the Cannons were proud to be part of Australian football history.
"What an incredible night to see our keeper Abili make his debut!!" the club tweeted.
"An historical moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!"
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