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."

Australia made sure of their place in the third stage of Asia's 2022 World Cup qualifying format with a routine 3-0 victory over 10-man Nepal.

After resounding wins over hosts Kuwait and Chinese Taipai, boss Graham Arnold again rung the changes at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium but it made little difference to the outcome.

Mathew Leckie, captain for the night, gave the Socceroos an early advantage and Fran Karacic's maiden international goal had doubled the lead by the time Rohit Chand was sent off for a professional foul on Martin Boyle before half-time.

Boyle completed the scoring, with a seventh consecutive win to wrap up top spot in Group B long beyond doubt before then.

It took Leckie only six minutes to find the breakthrough, meeting left-back Aziz Behich's cross with a powerful header.

Karacic enjoyed a moment to savour in the 38th minute after Leckie skipped past a desperate lunge from Suman Aryal and picked out the Brescia right-back to slot home.

Leckie was involved again shortly afterwards as Nepal's evening took another sour turn, releasing Boyle to be unceremoniously brought down by Chand, who gave the referee little option.

Boyle looked set to experience personal disappointment when he botched a free header early in the second half before slicing into the side netting. But a sublime curling cross from Hibernian team-mate Jackson Irvine in the 57th minute allowed the 28-year-old to tap in from close range.

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