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

  • Portmore United blank hapless Humble Lion 3-0 Portmore United blank hapless Humble Lion 3-0

    Portmore United FC continued their impressive run in the Jamaica Premier League on Sunday, defeating Humble Lion 3-0 at the UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.

  • Lukaku 'absolutely not for sale' insists Inter CEO Marotta Lukaku 'absolutely not for sale' insists Inter CEO Marotta

    Inter star Romelu Lukaku is not for sale according to the Serie A club's CEO Beppe Marotta, amid speculation about the Belgium striker's future.

    Lukaku has been linked with a move away from the Italian champions following the departure of head coach Antonio Conte, as the Nerazzurri struggle financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The 28-year-old has reportedly caught the attention of his former club Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City.

    Speaking ahead of Inter's friendly with Pergolettese, Marotta quashed talk of Lukaku leaving San Siro.

    "From our side, we can yes absolutely, Lukaku is not for sale," Marotta told Sportmediaset. "Lukaku is an important piece on the chess board available to [head coach} Simone Inzaghi."

    Lukaku scored 24 goals from 36 league outings in 2020-21, while he also provided 11 assists.

    Only in 2016-17 for Everton did the Belgian score more (25) in a single campaign in one of Europe's top five leagues.

    Lukaku is expected to train for the first time under Inzaghi on Monday.

     

  • Fernando is coming home! Torres takes up coaching position with Atletico Madrid youth team Fernando is coming home! Torres takes up coaching position with Atletico Madrid youth team

    Former Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres has returned to the LaLiga club as a coach of their youth team.

    Torres himself progressed through Atletico's academy setup and spent 11 seasons with Los Colchoneros across two spells.

    The 37-year-old former Spain forward retired from playing in August 2019 and has already spent time working behind the scenes with Atleti, but he stepped away in February for personal reasons.

    He will now take the next step in his post-playing career by coaching the Spanish champions' Juvenil A side from the 2021-22 campaign.

    Atletico confirmed the news on their official website on Sunday in a post titled "Fernando is coming home".

    Torres scored 129 goals in 404 appearances for Atleti in all competitions and also represented Liverpool, Chelsea and Milan during an 18-year playing career.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.