1988 National Soccer League

President: Armando Difruscio
Vice-president: Italo Recine

Preview of the season

At the annual general meeting held in Toronto in January 1988 the league elected a new president in Armando Difruscio of St. Catharines Roma. Italo Recine of the Windsor Wheels was elected as vice-president. The league also decided to operate with a reserve division.


Referees included: Mladen Moric

Clubs and players

Toronto Croatia hired former Yugoslav international player Miso Smajlovic as their head coach. Key players were goalkeeper Otto Orf; midfielder Darico Pantalon; forwards Drago Santic and Bozo Bakota.

Toronto Italia hired Ivan Markovic as their head coach. Notable players included Carlos Salguero and Carmen Groe.

The Windor Wheels were coached by Mirko Bazic. Roster included goalkeeper Rob Agostini; defender Mark Christensen; midfielder Ian Parratt and forward Mark Tirikian. They played their home games at Windsor Stadium.

Star player – Bozo Bakota (Toronto Croatia)

Panini sticker of Bozo Bakota while with Austrian club Sturm Graz.

Before the season started Toronto Croatia signed former NK Zagreb and Sturm Graz-star Bozo Bakota. Bakota had played in one international match for Yugoslavia in 1978.

Review of the season

Toronto Italia clinched the league championship when they defeated Toronto Croatia 1-0 on Wednesday August 31.

Toronto Croatia won the playoff championship.

After the season London Marconi took a year’s leave of absence and Chile Lindo were dropped because of their behavioural problems on the pitch for the past two seasons.

Leading goalscorer – Carlos Salguero

Results and standings

National Soccer League play-offs


Toronto Croatia defeated Toronto Italia

National Soccer League cup

Cup finals

September 14, 1988 Toronto
Toronto Croatia 2 (own goal, Dragan Santic)
Windsor Wheels 1 (Victor Quni)

September 16, 1988 Windsor Stadium, Windsor
Windsor Wheels 1 (Mike Lupenec)
Toronto Croatia 1 (Bozo Bakota)

Toronto Croatia won total-goal series 3-2

Canadian Soccer Championship

September 25, 1988 Herbert St. Leonard Park, Montreal
Attendance: 1,200
Montreal St. Leonard-Corfinium 3 (Windsor Vertus 2, Paul David)
Toronto Croatia 1 (Zoran Narjanovic)

Friendship Cup

June ??, 1988
Toronto Italia 5
Palermo (Italy) 0

June ??, 1988
Toronto Croatia 1
Palermo (Italy) 6

June 24, 1988 Mic Mac Park, Windsor
Attendance: 1,350
Windsor Wheels 1
Palermo (Italy) 3

Exhibition games

July 16, 1988 Windsor Stadium, Windsor
Attendance: 2,000
Windsor Wheels 0
Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslavia) 7

July 17, 1988 Byers Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Windsor Wheels
Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslavia)