How Australia’s Aura of Invincibility Was Challenged by Argentina!

It’s not an ‘everyday thing’ to see world number one Australia being put under the cosh on the international stage. World number 7 Argentina threw a serious challenge at the redoubtable Australia and nearly pulled off a ‘famous win’ before settling for a 3-3 draw courtesy a late Blake Govers goal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

The Mariano Ronconi-coached Los Leonas perhaps would have set themselves up for a stern examination when Jeremey Hayward rifled in a short corner in the first quarter – his 95th international goal. Argentina announced their fightback in the second quarter when Tomas Domene breached the defences of Andrew Charter off a shortie routine. The match looked poised for an intriging tussle with the South Americans taking the fight to their much superior opposition but their spirits were dented a bit when Daniel Beale scored at the stroke of half-time as the Kookaburras held the psychological advantage of being in front at the break.

Argentina needed a quick riposte in the second riposte when Maico Casello, who scored the match-winner against South Africa, beat his marker Jake Harvey and guided a swift Lucas Toscani pass into the Aussie goal. The Los Leonas literally drove the Aussies back to their walls in the final quarter when Martin Ferreiro flicked home a backhander after being brilliantly set up by Lucas Villa.

Argentina must have raised visions of their last win over Australia five years back when they won 2-1 at a Four Nation Tourney at Darwin in 2018. The stage was set for the first major upset of the 15th World Cup but Blake Govers played a spoiler. Producing a ‘smart defensive steal’ from Facundo Zarate, Blake Govers rushed and unleashed a screamer that denied the South Americans what could have been a great win!

The world number one in the end were lucky to split points after looked set to finish second-best two minutes before the final hooter. The 3-3 draw opens up Pool A – France’s last pool tie against Argentina assumes significance as the both teams would go all out for a win as anything less than a win may not be enough to seal their quarterfinal passage.