Socceroos teen sensation Garang Kuol has reflected on his last-gasp missed chance in Australia’s 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the World Cup Round of 16.
The 18-year-old was brought on as a substitute as Australia desperately sought a way back into the match after a Mat Ryan howler saw the Socceroos down 2-0 following an earlier Lionel Messi strike.
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A deflected Craig Goodwin strike gave the Socceroos hope before a golden chance fell to Kuol in the final moments of the match.
A Goodwin cross reached Kuol, who’s brilliant first touch put him clear of his defender. He quickly swiveled and fired a shot only for Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez to spread himself and make a brilliant point-blank save.
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Martinez was then embraced by his teammates who knew just how close Australia had come to a shock equalizer.
Kuol, who recently signed with Premier League giants Newcastle United, said the moment was “learning curve” in his young career.
“To be honest, I didn’t really see much. Just tried to turn around and shoot, but on the replay can see the keeper rushed out,” Kuol said after the match.
“Just a learning curve. Pretty tough it didn’t go in, good save.”
Kuol, who came on as a substitute against France and was unused against Tunisia, said he was confident of making an impact.
“I was telling myself I’d come on and score a goal, and Arnie was telling me the same thing,” he said.
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“Both had the same expectations, so, when I wasn’t able to score, I was very disappointed, just got to move on.”
He said he was grateful for the experience and declared Australian football was on the up.
“It’s been unreal. Going one on one with Messi for a bit, like a dream,” he said.
“I think in the future you’ll see a team at the level of Brazil and Argentina.
“People think people in Europe can fly or something, all humans, all with two feet, just about the passion and the heart.”
Teammate Matthew Leckie said Kuol was a “special” talent.
“The key is, he’s getting a lot of attention and it’s the way he deals with it,” Leckie said
“Needs to stay humble, work hard, head down. Have the expectation but exceed that expectation with the right mentality.
“He creates special moments in games, and can create something from nothing. He’s in a great position, moving over to Europe now, it’s all in front of him. Just what he does with it.”