Olyroos coach Graham Arnold had declared his team was ready to shock the world at the Olympic Games. One game down and mission already accomplished.
The Australians stunned Argentina 2-0 in Sapporo on Thursday night to go top of a group that includes Spain and Egypt, who drew their opener.
Anrnold had also said his side was ready to deliver something special and Melbourne City’s Marco Tilio did that with the second goal after Lachie Wales scored a first half opener and Argentina went down to 10 men.
Tilio, a late callup who needed a Melbourne City staffer to break into his home to retrieve his passport while he was locked down in Sydney, scored with just his second touch for the team, curling home a stunning strike.
“We always believed in what we wanted to achieve,” said Wales. “We got here early and had a really good training camp. We believed in Arnie’s philosophy. We used words like ‘believe it receive it’ and it’s a dream come true.
“It’s a big moment in Australian football. Tonight we shocked the world. Onto Spain and hopefully we can shock the world again.”
— 7NEWS Australia (@7NewsAustralia) July 22, 2021
Wales was full of praise for his teammates, who were outstanding across the park – including centreback and captain Thomas Deng, a refugee born in Kenya who has gone onto lead his adopted country at the Olympics.
The Aussie under 23 selection were well worth their win, aided by the red card to Francisco Ortega through two yellows in two minutes just before halftime.
While Wales’s first half goal was against the run of play – they had less than 40 percent possession throughout – Australia were more composed and in control in the second half and could have scored more than Titlio’s sublime on the run, first time finish, with Mitch Duke missing a late chance.
In the first half Riley McGree went close to a stunning bicycle goal, and he shot just over from far out in the second after butchering a chance for a second with Wales.
Neither scorer had been in the initial squad picked for Tokyo.
Tilio had not been involved in any of the qualification rounds and only got a late call up through injury to Ramy Najjarine.
Wales was left out but added when Olympic squad sizes were expanded last week in reaction to COVID positives.
"To all the Australians out there, it's such a big moment in football. Tonight we shocked the world."
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 22, 2021
— Olyroos (@Socceroos) July 22, 2021
From a war refugee camp in Kenya to captain of Australia at the Olympics and is an impenetrable wall in defence vs Argentina.
Thomas Deng. What a player. #ARGvAUS #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/ojcM3UJFUb
— Rory Flanagan (@Rory_Flanagan) July 22, 2021
Graham Arnold: "We've done nothing yet. I've been building the belief in the boys that they can do this. We're here to compete for a gold medal, we're not making up the numbers". #ARGvAUS #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/Mui5an1aCo
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) July 22, 2021