By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 04, 2022

On paper, Argentina was a clear winner. On the field, they still had to prove their prowess in the last sixteen, on Sunday night at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. After their shock loss to Saudi Arabia, The Albicelestes were taking no chances.

Mexico, and particularly Poland, felt the collective heat of Lionel Scaloni’s men, as they regrouped to stamp their class and make it to the round of 16.

Garang Kuol the wide-eyed substitute

More of that later; for now, lets us focus on the child on the field, who came in as a substitute in the 72nd minute for Matthew Leckie. With Australia pressing hard for an equalizer and Argentina sweating to swell their 2-1 tally, the match was getting to be a humdinger.

Garang Kuol: Introduced to the world of soccer at Doha Qatar, one will see a lot of this youngster in the years to come. It’s a pity we did not get to see plenty of him. Photo Courtesy: garangkuoll/Instagram.

Graham Arnold plays his last Ace in the 72nd minute. Immediately, the wide-eyed 18-year-old makes his mark with his presence inside the Argentina box. No one seems to take notice of him as he makes quick darts in search of a loose ball. He is all over—left, right center; darting through the maze of Argentina defenders. 

Lautaro Martinez does a Lukaku for Argentina

At the other end of the field, Lautaro Martínez squanders three golden opportunities to put Argentina up 3-1 within a space of 5 minutes, deep into extra time. Lionel Messi mesmerizes the Australian defense with his twist, turn, and uncanny ability to find a man to score. Martinez brings alive the memory of Romelu Lukaku from the Belgium-Croatia last league tie. It’s a relentless onslaught on the Australian citadel.

On the counter, in the dying seconds of the game, Australia darts forward one last time. Craig Goodwin measures a perfect chip deep to the right of the Argentina box. A dipping diagonal! Garang Kuol sidesteps Nicolás Tagliafico (in for Marcos Acuña in the 80th minute) killing the flight of the long ball, and turning in the same swift moment and shoots. The ball finds E. Martinez’s flailing hands. That was the 7th and last minute of extra time! Kuol and the Australian supporters let out a huge cry of despair. Argentina players falls in a heap, in relief, on Martinez.

Remember the name: Garang Kuol

Remember the name: Garang Kuol. Introduced to the world of soccer at Doha Qatar, one will see a lot of this youngster in the years to come. It’s a pity we did not get to see plenty of him. Remember Ronaldo at the 1994 World Cup? At age 17, the Brazilian was the youngest member of the squad that won the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He did not play in a single game.

According to soccer pundits, Garang Kuol (born in Egypt to parents from South Sudan), has been eased into senior football because of his slight build and tender age. Maybe, that is what made the Argentina defenders leave him alone. 

No team at any level will dare to make that mistake again.

As for Lautaro Martinez, thankfully, unlike Lukaku, he emerged on the winning side.

Also Read: Croatia survives the head and leg of Lukaku

Also Read: Saudi Arabia vs Argentina: The Romeo Jozak connection

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