NPL CF Men's Grand Final Review

Sam Brown emerged as the hero for the second time in three weeks as the Canberra Croatia goalkeeper saved from O’Connor Knights Harrison Palic to seal an epic 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory in the National Premier League Grand Final after the Croatian derby ended all-square at 1-1 after extra time.

Brown beat away Palic’s strike, the fourteenth penalty of the shoot-out, to secure the victory, immediately after Tony Spaseski held his nerve to set-up the potential match-winning moment.

It was harsh on Palic, the marauding Knights full-back who had opened the scoring in the seventeenth minute. Niko Kresic won a tackle in midfield and fed Aisosa Ihegie who found Palic on the overlap. Cutting inside Palic squeezed his finish underneath Brown at the near post to give the League Champions the lead.

Canberra Croatia would argue they should have been ahead by then, Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu scooping over from close range under pressure from Palic. The American striker was to make amends just past the half-hour however when he levelled the scores with his sixteenth goal of the season.

Daniel Colbertaldo was the creator-in-chief, his delightfully flighted ball from the left-flank arcing into perfection where Ahmed-Shaibu met it with a forceful downward header that flew past Seb Arranz in the Knights goal.

Ahmed-Shaibu would strike the post in the second-half, and was foiled by Arranz on another occasion, the Knights custodian going on to win the Valeri Medal for a Player of the Match performance during which he made three top-class saves to preserve the Knights involvement.

Colbertaldo saw a fierce drive pushed over the bar, and Argentine forward Franc Greco had a glorious chance to win it late on, scampering clear of the O’Connor defence but seeing his effort blocked by Arranz.

It was far from one way traffic with the Knights themselves having some more than presentable openings even before the match entered the extra half-an-hour. Ihegie was foiled by Sam Brown diving at his feet, the rebound from Phakedi Manda blocked, before Michael Piccolo made a stunning recovery tackle to foil Micheal Adams.

With nothing separating the teams at the end of the 120 minutes penalties were required to settle the occasion. After Stephen Domenici and Ryan Keir had scored for Croatia, Patrick O’Rourke replying kind, Tyson Livermore sent his spot-kick wide of the post.

Keegan Vucetic struck the underside of the crossbar with Croatia’s fourth attempt, after successful conversions from Ahmed-Shaibu for Croatia and Lachlan Fields and James Driscoll for O’Connor.

That set up a sudden death scenario as Daniel Subasic, Ihegie, substitute Noah Vanderpol, and Kresic all netted. Spaseski was next up and, after he confidently rolled the ball home, it was left for Brown to snatch his moment and secure Grand Final glory for the perennial trophy-hunters.



Saturday 23 September

O’Connor Knights 1 (Palic 17’) Canberra Croatia 1 (Ahmed-Shaibu 34’) – after extra time, Canberra Croatia won 6-5 on penalties

O’Connor Knights: 30. Seb ARRANZ, 3. Lachlan FIELDS, 5. Aisosa IHEGIE, 6. Connor BILL, 7. Regan WALSH (10. Patrick O’ROURKE 60’), 8. Daniel ROBERTS, 9. Micheal ADAMS (22. Harry MARTIN 96’), 11. Phakedi MANDA (Tyson LIVERMORE 96’), 13. Harrison PALIC, 18. James DRISCOLL, 21, Niko KRESIC

Substitutes not used: 12. Kristian TOKIC, 15. 18. Logan BROWNING

Canberra Croatia: 1. Sam BROWN, 2. Marco GAYER (15. David SESLEJA 55’), 3. Daniel COLBERTALDO (11. Keegan VUCETIC 96’), 6. Ryan KEIR, 10. Lukman AHMED-SHAIBU, 14. Daniel SUBASIC, 18. Franc GRECO (13. Nick PRATEZINA 110’), 19. Tony SPASESKI, 20. Michael PICCOLO (9. Noah VANDERPOL 72’), 21. Stephen DOMENICI, 24. Daniel SPARROW

Substitutes not used: 23. Jason MATESA

Match Officials: Alex MCCONACHIE (Referee), Owen GOLDRICK (Assistant Referee 1), Thomas GELLATLY (Assistant Referee 2), Declan WOODS (Fourth Official)

Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 2. Marco GAYER, 3. Daniel COLBERTALDO, 14. Daniel SUBASIC, 18. Franc GRECO, 19. Tony SPASESKI, AC: Andy RAKIC (Canberra Croatia), 5. Aisosa IHEGIE, 6. Connor BILL, 8. Daniel ROBERTS, AC: Davor NEMET (O’Connor Knights)


Player of the Match (Valeri Medal): 30. Seb ARRANZ (O’Connor Knights)


Monaro Panthers shocked Canberra Croatia in the National Premier League under-23 Grand Final with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over the League Champions at Deakin Stadium.

Despite finishing a distant sixteen-points behind Croatia in the League table, the Panthers upset the apple-cart, winning their way from the Elimination Final, through the Preliminary Final, and on to ultimate Grand Final glory.

The Panthers threw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons early on by striking inside the opening four minutes. It was a goal created by the powerful presence of Archie McGregor, the Monaro striker bouncing off a couple of challenges and squaring for Samson Carr to guide a first-time effort past Jason Matesa.

Croatia hit back through some speedy attacks, and almost equalised when Timothy Santos rifled a shot into the ground that was helped on its way over the crossbar by the palm of Gerion Mehmetaj in the Panthers goal.

Monaro ended the half strongly and were able to extend the lead three minutes before the half-time interval. A pinpoint delivery from a corner was met by a looping header from midfielder Ryan Straub that floated over Matesa in the Croatian goal to give the Panthers a dream cushion at the break.

Croatia started the second-half brightly and almost narrowed the deficit when Nicholas Pratezina saw his effort blocked by Mehmetaj, and the rebound shaved the outside of the post.

A short delay ensued as Panthers forward Mitchell Jervis-Hamilton, carried off in the first-half, was taken to hospital by ambulance but it didn’t forestall any Panthers momentum as Matesa needed to be alert to deny McGregor a third.

However, Monaro weren’t to be denied for long and Straub burst forward to play in Giuseppe Tine with a perfectly weighted pass allowing the forward to slide home the deciding goal.


Saturday 23 September

Canberra Croatia 0 Monaro Panthers 3 (S. Carr 4’, Straub 43’, Tine 80’)

Canberra Croatia: 23. Jason MATESA, 5. Luke SAKAMOTO, 6. Fabian OLIVARES (22. Marko RATHOUSKI 77’), 8. Alex-Junior MALAUULU, 9. Atiya WARAGA, 10. Nick PRATEZINA, 12. Nigel KALLEE (34. Marcus CRISPE 54’), 14. Parris BANGWENI, 15. Jack LEVERETT, 17. James GODDING, 21. Timothy SANTOS (3. Steven DOSEN 77’)

Substitutes not used: 25. Luka KURTA, 82. Ewan GOODCHILD

Monaro Panthers: 1. Gerion MEHMETAJ, 3. Samson CARR, 4. James LA VELLA, 10. Elijah DENG (6. Nicholas CACHIA 87’), 9. Giuseppe TINE (7. Khaine TODD 87’), 11. Patrick MITCHELL (15. Nicholas GRANDY 69’), 12. Mitchell JERVIS-HAMILTON (20. Oscar CAMPBELL 20’), 13. Angus PITKIN, 14. Archie MCGREGOR, 16. Ryan STRAUB, 19. Jack ELLWOOD (17. Ronan CARR 69’)

Match Officials: Joshua EISER (Referee), Jordan KING (Assistant Referee 1), Hyunwoo JEON (Assistant Referee 2), Jackson TIPPETT (Fourth Official)

Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 14. Parris BANGWENI, 17. Nigel KALLEE, AC: Francois BANGWENI (Canberra Croatia), 4. James LA VELLA, 9. Giuseppe TINE, 11. Patrick MITCHELL, 16. Ryan STRAUB (Monaro Panthers)


Player of the Match: Ryan STRUAB (Monaro Panthers)


22 Maxx GREEN (Gungahlin United)

21 Stephen DOMENICI (Canberra Croatia)

16 Lukman AHMED-SHAIBU (Canberra Croatia)

14 Roko STRIKA (Monaro Panthers)

12 Micheal ADAMS (O’Connor Knights), Aisosa IHEGIE (O’Connor Knights), Nik TANESKI (Tigers FC)

11 Nik POPOVICH (Canberra Olympic)

10 Josh GULEVSKI (Tigers FC)


Philippe BERNABO-MADRID (Gungahlin United)

Josh GASPARI (Gungahlin United), Clancy HISLOP (Tuggeranong United), Amilio KISTA (Tigers FC)

Luca FLOREZ (Canberra Olympic), Niko KRESIC (O’Connor Knights), Connor MYNOTT-SMITH (Monaro Panthers), Sam WALKER (Tuggeranong United), Sam WHITHEAR (Tigers FC)

Jenno CERUTI (Monaro Panthers), Thomas JAMES (Canberra Olympic), Phakedi MANDA (O’Connor Knights)                                                                              

Daniel BARAC (Canberra Croatia), Alen JAMES (Canberra Olympic), Lewis MCKINNEY (Tuggeranong United), Patrick O’ROURKE (O’Connor Knights), Patrick SHORE (West Canberra Wanderers), Regan WALSH (O’Connor Knights)

Connor BILL (O’Connor Knights), James DRISCOLL (O’Connor Knights), FERNANDO Jorquera (Gungahlin United), Lachlan FIELDS (O’Connor Knights), Jack GREEN (Gungahlin United), Sam HABTEMARIAM (Gungahlin United), Micheal JOHN (Monaro Panthers), Ryan KEIR (Canberra Croatia), Luca MACOR (Canberra Olympic), Ed MCCARTHY (Tigers FC), Marko MILUTINOVIC (Tigers FC), Adam NEOU (Canberra Olympic), Michael PICCOLO (Canberra Croatia), Luke STEVENS (Tuggeranong United), Antoni TIMOTHEOU (Gungahlin United), George TIMOTHEOU (Gungahlin United), Jason UGRINIC (Canberra Croatia)

2 Riley ANGELOSANTE (O’Connor Knights), Ben BASSER-SILK (Monaro Panthers), Julian BORGNA (Tigers FC), Daniel COLBERTALDO (Canberra Croatia), Franc GRECO (Canberra Croatia), Beau HARVEY (Monaro Panthers), Nikos KALFAS (Tigers FC), Tyson LIVERMORE (O’Connor Knights), Archie MCGREGOR (Monaro Panthers), Tom MCLACHLAN (Gungahlin United), Nathen MEGIC (Canberra Olympic), Jackson PAESLER (Gungahlin United), Harrison PALIC (O’Connor Knights), Kaz PATAFTA (Canberra Croatia), Nicholas ROUFOGALIS (West Canberra Wanderers), Kyle SENIOR (Tigers FC), Callum SMITH (Canberra Olympic), Daniel SPARROW (Canberra Croatia), Tony SPASESKI (Canberra Croatia), Daniel SUBASIC (Canberra Croatia), Hristjan TANOSKI (Tigers FC), Robert TKATCHENKO (Monaro Panthers), Noah VANDERPOL (Canberra Croatia), Atiya WARAGA (Canberra Croatia), Doug WOODIWISS (West Canberra Wanderers)

1 Badreldin ABBAS (Gungahlin United), Joaquin ABOT (Tuggeranong United), Angus BAILEY (West Canberra Wanderers), Dylan BERKREY (Tuggeranong United), Jake BISHOP (Tigers FC), Riley BROWN (West Canberra Wanderers), Lachlan CAMPBELL (O’Connor Knights), Kofi DANNING (Canberra Olympic), Elie DARWICH (Canberra Olympic), Dylan DEEP-JONES (Monaro Panthers), Dom GIAMPAOLO (Gungahlin United), Patrick HISLOP (Tuggeranong United), Christian KRESKAS (Monaro Panthers), Adrian MACOR (Canberra Olympic), Tony MADAFFARI (Tigers FC), Zac MCLAREN (Monaro Panthers), Max MELLICK (Canberra Olympic), Misko NAUMOSKI (Gungahlin United), Tomohiro OGAWA (Tigers FC), Lasse OLRIK (Canberra Olympic), George PAVESE (West Canberra Wanderers), Euan PETERKIN (Tuggeranong United), Jordan REZEK (Tuggeranong United), Jayden RIPPON (West Canberra Wanderers), David SESELJA (Canberra Croatia), Harry TRUMAN (West Canberra Wanderers), Liam VICKERS (West Canberra Wanderers), Shandon WHITEHEAD (Gungahlin United), Joshua YOUNG (West Canberra Wanderers)