Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
- Nick D’Agostino scored the winner as Australia ended their Olympic drought
- “As soon as the full-time whistle blew, a few players broke down in tears”
- Forward netted 5 targets in qualifying having barely performed any membership soccer
No matter what Nick D’Agostino accomplishes in his soccer profession, he already owns a piece of priceless historical past. D’Agostino’s purpose within the qualifying play-off ensured Australia’s drought from the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament – now stretched a additional 12 months to 13 years – will draw to a shut once they take the sector at Tokyo 2020.
Only two earlier Australians – Ned Zelic in 1992 and Adrian Leijer in 2008 – can say their purpose proved pivotal in lifting the Olyroos into an Olympiad. Now D’Agostino and his staff-mates are in search of to observe within the footsteps of some of essentially the most legendary names in sport.
One such king within the Olympic pantheon, Usain Bolt, is D’Agostino’s earliest reminiscence of the world’s foremost multi-sport occasion. Something of a dash champion in his personal faculty days, D’Agostino might simply have adopted the ’Lightning Bolt’ into monitor and subject however that notion proved one thing of an anathema to his household, the place a Maltese-background meant soccer was a fixed. “I wanted to do track and field, but I don’t think my parents would let me,” D’Agostino tells FIFA.com, partly maybe, in jest.
Grabbing the highlight
Despite scoring three targets within the qualifying event, together with the essential strike within the play-off towards defending U-23 champions Uzbekistan, D’Agostino’s membership type run urged little of what was to observe. Indeed the ahead had managed simply 14 A-League minutes through the earlier eight months at Perth Glory.
Yet by some means he ended as Australia’s high-scorer in a gruelling marketing campaign amid steamy situations in Bangkok. There was additionally a double towards the hosts in a 2-1 win, and one other decisive brace in pre-qualifying towards perennial continental challengers Korea Republic.
“That tournament was probably the biggest turning point for me,” mentioned the 23-12 months-previous. “We set out seeking to achieve a goal and Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) instilled belief in me to go out and do what he knows I’m capable of doing. To have a coach that believes in you is great for your mental well-being.”
The latest Tokyo 2020 draw has caused one other problem for Australia who’re set to face European and South American royalty within the form of Spain and Argentina, as nicely as London 2012 quarter-finalists Egypt.
“It has been a long process to get where we are now,” D’Agostino mentioned. “Hopefully it will be worth the wait and that we set out what we want to do over there.”
Emotion on edge
D’Agostino mentioned the squad had been aware, however unburdened, by the staff’s historical past, each latest and distant. Australia had competed in six successive tournaments till lacking out on London 2012. Emotions, unsurprisingly, had been excessive when the staff realised their ambition at Thailand’s iconic Rajamangala.
“As soon as the full-time whistle blew, a few (players) broke down in tears to be honest,” mentioned D’Agostino. “It was a lengthy exhausting highway to get to that time for certain, however we knew it might all be price it if we put within the performances that we wanted.
“When that full-time whistle blew, we knew all the things we had labored so exhausting for had paid off, so it was a huge weight off the shoulders. It was an unimaginable feeling, the sensation of a lifetime, that’s for certain.
“Arnie at all times instils that perception in his gamers. He mentioned to us earlier than we departed ‘we are going to qualify’, and we truly aimed to win the event. Obviously we didn’t fairly get that purpose however I believe we performed very, very nicely within the reduce-throat video games, particularly in that final recreation. They (Uzbekistan) have high quality gamers and we defended resiliently and attacked nicely, and it was lucky that I used to be in a position to break free and put the ball within the again of the web.
“It is going to be a great experience to whichever players make the (Tokyo 2020) squad. You want to play against the best. We want to challenge ourselves. It is great to compare yourself with other players that are your age from around the world … not many people get that kind of opportunity.”