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Marco Tilio beat Argentina after IOC rules twist

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The only thing more remarkable than Australian teenager Marco Tilio scoring with almost his first touch as an Olympian was the fact he wasn’t meant to be playing at all.

Originally called up as a travelling reserve to provide injury cover, Tilio was the latest of entries to the Olyroos’ squad, earning his stripes after the IOC made amendments to allow the football squads to add four extra players to provide additional flexibility during a complex Olympic Games tied down by Covid-19.

But Tilio likes to do things in a hurry. So he wasted no time in making an impact when called on by coach Graham Arnold – scoring a scorching goal with his second touch, mere seconds after coming off the bench, to seal a famous 2-0 victory over world heavyweights Argentina.

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It’s led to some instant internet notoriety, with Tilio’s Wikipedia page getting some curious updates in the wake of his stunning performance – which described his left-foot strike as “better than (Argentinian great) Lionel Messi has ever scored”.

It’s been a wild few weeks for the 19-year-old, who was sitting on the tarmac at Sydney Airport – having returned home after winning the A-League grand final with Melbourne City – when he received a call from his club that rattled him.

“You’re a chance to go to the Olympics,” he was told.

Two days later, that message came from an even more reliable source: Arnold himself.

“I missed (his call), but called him back and he said ‘you’re going to be an Olympian’. I was in so much shock,” Tilio said in Sapporo on Friday.

“So many emotions were going through (my head) last night. ) It’s such a proud moment for me and my family back home. Who could’ve thought? Really it’s just a dream come true.

“But there’s always so much more we can do, keep fulfilling dreams and showing what Australia are made of at an Olympic Games.”

Arnold has boldly declared his team – who started the tournament as $151 outsiders – can claim gold, and Tilio confirmed that’s a belief that the squad carries as well.

“Of course. We always say the strong belief and family culture we have in this team, the sky is the limit for us I believe, and all the boys believe,” he said.

“Everyone comes here with the same goal: to get the gold medal.”

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