Socceroos prodigy Garang Kuol made World Cup history and nearly captured the moment

Prodigy lamented the last minutes of their 2-1 loss to Argentina

Kuol, 18, became the youngest player since Pelé in 1958 to play by knockout

If ever there was a game for Garang Kuol, this is it – and it almost belongs to him. With a minute of injury time, the (very) young substitute was in the box, spiraling into space and closing in on the goal. When he shot on the turn there was every chance the Socceroos might push Argentina to 120 minutes. If Emiliano Martinez had slightly shorter arms anything would be possible.

It took dives and stretches to deny Kuol, but the 25 minutes or so on the pitch at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium was a watershed moment, not only for the teenager himself but for the World Cup. At 18 years and 79 days old, Kuol became the youngest player to play in the knockout stage of a final since Pelé in 1958.

In the run-up to the tournament, when expectations surrounding Australia's campaign were non-existent, there was a sense that the country had at least a secret X factor, a kid who might be able to do something amazing to shock opponents and show off. to the world. A lot has happened since then, and quite a bit of the X factor is known. But Kuol's near equalizer felt like a nice way to finish – a tip of sorts for the future. Like what you see there? You just wait until 2026.

Kuol spoke with his feet more than his mouth, in short, a no-nonsense statement. "To be honest, I didn't see much of it," he said of his late chance. “Just tried to turn around and shoot but on the replay I could see the keeper run out. Just a learning curve. Hard enough it does not enter. Nice save.

Before he was substituted, he told himself he would score. Arnold had told him the same thing. "Both of them have the same expectations," he said. "So when I couldn't score I was very disappointed. Just moved.

It was the mention of Lionel Messi that lit something up in his face. “Going one-on-one with Messi for a bit, it's like a dream,” he said, before turning his attention to what the Socceroos will be next. "I think in the future you will see teams at the level of Brazil and Argentina. People think [players] in Europe can fly or something. All humans, all on two legs. It's just about passion and heart."

Kuol knows all about it. He had yet to start a senior football game, having been selected by Arnold from the bench for the Central Coast Mariners. It was also how he was selected by Newcastle United, a real leap reserved only for the most promising talents who turned A-League All-Stars against Barcelona in May. When he signed for Newcastle at the end of September, Eddie Howe preached patience in the face of excitement, embarking on a loan move with a view to developing a future Premier League player. At which club that development will take place remains an unanswered question, although somewhere in Portugal a possibility has been reported.

"Not too sure yet, interesting," said Kuol, before being stopped in mid-sentence by the Socceroos media handler who immediately removed him and told reporters only to ask about the World Cup. Before he goes anywhere, he'll be back at the Mariners for the last few games, and to see the community that has watched their young star in Qatar from a distance.

Kuol, the youngest Socceroo since Harry Kewell in 1996, has been followed closely and en masse from his hometown of Shepparton in northern Victoria, where his family moved as refugees after fleeing South Sudan via his birthplace, Egypt.

“He makes us so happy,” said Kuol's aunt, Agoness, last week. “It makes us feel like we can fly, watching him play in the World Cup. And [we are] very happy for the parents, who worked very hard for this.” This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

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