Australia Cup semi-final sees 14-year-old goalkeeper subbed on in historic moment

On a Wednesday night when most other teenagers his age were doing their homework, Ymer Abili was out making history in the Australia Cup.

The 14-year-old goalkeeper became the youngest player in the competition’s history after coming on as a substitute in Oakleigh Cannons’ 5-2 loss to Macarthur FC. 

Playing for a place in the Australia Cup final, underdogs Oakleigh opened the scoring at Jack Edwards Reserve only for their A-League Men opponents to score five goals in the space of 20 minutes. 

Oakleigh would score last though and produced the highlight of the night when they then opted to bring on Abili in injury-time. 

MORE: Every result from the 2022 Australia Cup

The teenager replaced Lewis Italiano, who at 31, was more than double his replacement’s age. 

While Abili seemed to relish his chance to play senior football, his mum admitted she wasn’t quite so calm about the experience. 

“I was a nervous wreck. I’ve been nervous all night,” she told Network 10 post-match. 

“I’m so proud of Ymer, he trains really, really hard for the last couple of years. It’s been a great experience for the whole family.”

Oakleigh, who beat Sydney FC to reach the semi-finals, were left short of goalkeepers last month after a run of injuries with Italiano brought in as an emergency replacement. 

Abili was also called up from the club’s Under 14’s side and after training with the senior team in recent weeks got his chance to shine against Macarthur.  

Australia Cup final locked in

While Oakleigh fell short of a fairytale final, fellow NPL club Sydney United sealed their spot in the decider after beating Brisbane Roar in their earlier semi-final. 

Sydney United will now face Macarthur in the Australia Cup final on October 1 at a yet to be confirmed venue in New South Wales. 

The match will be broadcast live and free on Channel 10. 

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