From originally being named as a train-on player, to starting and scoring in the Olyroos Tokyo Olympics 2020 opener against Argentina, Lachlan Wales will never forget the night Australia ‘shocked the world’.
Western United’s Wales kicked off a historic night for the Olyroos as he opened the scoring inside just 14 minutes in Australia’s spectacular 2-0 victory over Argentina.
In a massive statement of intent, Wales helped Australia avenge defeats to the South Americans in both the 2004 and 2008 Games.
While the result may come as a surprise to some, the message from Olyroos head coach Graham Arnold has been clear from the beginning.
He promised his side would ‘shock the world’ in their first Olympics campaign since Beijing 2008, and they delivered one of the most famous nights in Australian football history.
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Speaking after the match, Wales proudly reiterated Arnold’s message as he reflected on a night that saw Australia go top of Group C.
“Argentina are one of the biggest nations in the world and tonight we shocked the world,” said Wales.
“Hopefully, we can keep shocking the world as we move on through the tournament.
"We always believed in Arnie's philosophy, and we use words like 'belief'. Believe it, receive it. And it happened.
“It's a dream come true for all the boys. It's one game but hopefully we can get another win against Spain.”
Wales had not been initially included in the Olyroos squad for Tokyo, but the 23-year-old was promoted from the train-on side after Olympic squad sizes were expanded.
With the prospect of just being in an Olympic environment, Wales was “over the moon” to be selected but now he has scored against one of the world's top nations.
“Things happen in football for a reason, and I was lucky enough to get a second chance by Arnie and the squad has been really welcoming to me coming back. It's an unreal feeling,” Wales said.
“It's been such hard work and to all the Australian’s out there it is such a big moment in football.”
While Wales scored the first goal, substitute Marco Tilio added a second for the Olyroos in the 80th minute to seal a memorable win.
Tilio had not been involved in any of the qualification rounds for the Olyroos and was not set for a Tokyo appearance until Arnold’s squad was extended.
But Tilio’s impressive impact from the bench on debut came as no surprise to Wales, who is well aware of the quality that the Melbourne City starlet possesses.
“I think that was his first touch. Good on little Tills. He is a ripper player, and he is a ripper bloke,” Wales said.
“I’m heaps happy for him and I’m happy for all the boys in there. It was a great team performance from the boys so onto Spain and hopefully, we can shock the world again.”
The Olyroos sit atop of Group C as they prepare to take on Spain on Sunday at 8:30pm AEST.