Tokyo Olympics: Olyroos stun Argentina after banishing Messi and Maradona talk

By Sports Desk July 22, 2021

Graham Arnold revealed he had "visualised" Australia's impressive 2-0 win over Argentina in their Olympics opener – and said keeping Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona out of conversations was all-important.

Australia head coach Arnold saw his Olyroos team strike a major victory for the underdog with their Tokyo 2020 success in Sapporo, where goals from Lachlan Wales and Marco Tilio did the damage.

Although the Argentina team this year does not carry the same star quality as the 2004 and 2008 sides that featured Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi respectively, the South Americans were expected to be on a high after their senior side lifted the Copa America trophy earlier this month.

Arnold's Australian troops were highly impressive in the Group C tussle, however, even though their coach still saw room for improvement.

"Nobody would have given us a chance apart from us. I've been visualising this performance for the last couple of weeks, I even visualised the score," Graham said.

"I believe in these boys and I believe so much in them that I'm not happy with our overall performance. I was happy with the work rate, the energy, but at times we turned over the ball too simply and too easily. We need to improve as we go on, and we will."

 

Arnold pointed to Australia having only one previous Olympic men's football win in the 2000s, a 5-1 win over Serbia and Montenegro in 2004 at the Athens Games.

"It's a great win, but we've done nothing yet. It's three points, we're off to a great start, the first win, but the important thing is improvement," the coach added.

"We didn't mention the name of the opposition, it's all about us. Sometimes when you mention a nation like Argentina's name, everyone just starts thinking of the players, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Copa America champions.

"It was more about focusing on ourselves for the last week and making sure all the players knew their roles, their jobs and building a lot of belief in the players that we could go out there and put in a good performance and win the game."

He vowed Australia were "here to compete for a gold medal" and offered up the victory to those locked down in Australia during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

"It was probably the last thing I mentioned to the players before they went on the pitch," he said. "Australia, New South Wales in particular, is going through a very tough time at the moment with COVID, with lockdown and I just said to the boys, 'A lot of families are locked down at home, let's put a smile on a lot of Australian faces tonight, give them a performance they will remember'.

"I really expect that a lot of people back at home who didn't give us much chance of winning before really enjoyed that. I expect we put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces ... for tonight anyway."

Related items

  • Maldini confirms agreement to stay on as Milan technical director: 'Now we can plan for the future' Maldini confirms agreement to stay on as Milan technical director: 'Now we can plan for the future'

    Paolo Maldini is glad that Milan can now "plan for the future" after confirming he has reached an agreement with the Serie A champions to stay on as technical director.

    Club legend Maldini was considered one of the main architects behind Milan's first Scudetto success in 11 years last season thanks to his work behind the scenes.

    He has held a boardroom position for the past four years, three of those in his current role, and helped sign the likes of Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan.

    The 54-year-old was due to be out of contract come the end of Thursday, but he announced shortly ahead of that deal expiring that he will remain in the job.

    "Everything is sorted. We renewed at the last minute, but we did it," Maldini told reporters outside Milan's headquarters.

    "I am very happy to be here and ready to plan for the future, with even more victories. There's still time [this transfer window]. We started a bit late, but we'll recover lost time."

    Director of football Frederic Massara is also reported to have signed an extension to the contract that was due to expire on Thursday.

    According to reports from Italy, the delay in reaching an agreement with the pair was down to the lack of funds being made available for transfers this window.

    Milan have already missed out on Sven Botman to Newcastle United, while Paris Saint-Germain appear to have pipped the Rossoneri to fellow Lille player Renato Sanches.

    Stefano Pioli's men begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign with a home match against Udinese on August 13. 

  • PSG complete €40m Vitinha transfer PSG complete €40m Vitinha transfer

    Paris Saint-Germain have completed the signing of midfielder Vitinha from Porto for a reported fee of €40million, marking their first new arrival of the transfer window.

    Barring the permanent capture of Nuno Mendes – who spent last season on loan in Paris – Vitinha is the club's first signing of a new era, with Christophe Galtier widely expected to succeed Mauricio Pochettino as head coach.

    Luis Campos, the hugely successful former Monaco and Lille sporting director, has already come in to drive PSG's transfer business – including this first buy.

    Vitinha has signed a five-year contract at the Parc des Princes.

    The 22-year-old Portugal international returned from a disappointing loan spell with Wolves to play a key part in Porto's Primeira Liga triumph last season, scoring two goals and providing three assists as the two-time European champions finished six points ahead of Sporting CP.

    PSG are set for a busy window, having already secured Kylian Mbappe to a lucrative new contract, having fended off Real Madrid's long-standing interest in the France forward.

    Further signings are expected in the French capital, with the club reported to have serious interest in Inter defender Milan Skriniar and Lille midfielder Renato Sanches.

    PSG begin the 2022-23 season in the Trophee des Champions against Nantes in Israel on July 31, before the Ligue 1 campaign commences the following week, with the defending champions on the road against Clermont.

  • Botman chose 'dream' Newcastle move over Milan transfer Botman chose 'dream' Newcastle move over Milan transfer

    Sven Botman considered Newcastle United "a little better" than Milan as he weighed up his transfer options, settling on a "dream" Premier League move.

    Lille defender Botman is expected to complete his move to Newcastle on Friday, with a deal in principle announced earlier this week.

    That reported £31.8million (€37m) agreement brought to an end a long-running saga, with the centre-back the subject of interest from both Newcastle and Milan.

    Botman discussed the merits of signing for both clubs following a January window in which neither could convince Lille to sell.

    Milan initially seemed favourites to finally land their man following the 2021-22 season, but they could not match Newcastle's offer.

    And Botman explained to De Telegraaf: "Newcastle's great project and the chance to play in the Premier League were two decisive aspects in making a decision.

    "Milan had also given me good feelings, but Newcastle more so; they seemed a little better.

    "I've been dreaming of the Premier League all my life and now this dream comes true."

    Botman revealed he was concerned after missing out on a January transfer, believing such opportunities "only pass once".

    But he was ultimately pleased to stick around, face Chelsea in the Champions League and depart Lille "in the right way", still joining Newcastle.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.