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After the Matildas won last night, the Australian men’s team will be hoping for similar success when the Olyroos take on Argentina in the Tokyo Olympics from 8:30pm AEST tonight.
The Olyroos will go into Group C as underdogs, but a few things could work in their favour against Argentina at the futuristic Sapporo Dome.
The Argentines are recent two-time winners of the Olympics, claiming gold in Athens in 2004 and again in Beijing four years later. But given that it was Carlos Tevez who fired them to glory in Greece and the 2008 team was absolutely stacked with talent like Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria, Juan Roman Riquelme, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero, the absence of any star names this time around should give Australia some hope.
Argentina’s pre-tournament friendlies have yielded a mixed bag of results.
They needed two stoppage-time goals to down Denmark 2-1 in the build-up to the Olympics, while South Korea held them to a 2-2 draw in their final hit-out before this Group B showdown.
Adolfo Gaich looks like the man to watch for the Argentines, with the towering CSKA Moscow striker a regular scorer for the Under-23 national side. He’ll be aided by midfielder Alexis Mac Allister, who finished with four goals in the CONMEBOL qualifying tournament. Interestingly enough, Mac Allister’s father twice played against the Socceroos in 1993. Goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma is their only overage player.
The Olyroos downed New Zealand 1-0 in Ichihara in their final hit-out before the Olympics, but other than that results have been hard to come by. Overage striker Mitch Duke scored the only goal, but coach Graham Arnold has plenty of game-breakers in the form of Daniel Arzani, Denis Genreau and Riley McGree in his squad. Tom Glover should get the nod in goal, while towering defender Harry Souttar will be looking to carry on his excellent Socceroos form.
Tonight’s game will be played under the Sapporo Dome’s permanently closed roof.
“I believe we have received a fantastic draw, and it will be a great experience for our boys,” Olyroos coach Graham Arnold said.
“In the past playing against Argentina has brought the best out of Australian footballers, while the opportunity for us to play against a top African nation in Egypt, as well as Spain, is a great opportunity to show what we have got.”
“My expectations are very high from ourselves as a team. With the delay of the Olympics for a year due to COVID, it has enabled our players to get a lot of game time, and I truly believe that we are in a better position at this time than last year. A good number of players are playing every week.”
Kick-off: 8:30pm (AEST)
Venue: Sapporo Dome, Tokyo
TV: Channel Seven
Odds: Argentina $1.47, Olyroos $7.20, Draw $4.10 (odds via PlayUp)