Today’s Youngsters, Tomorrow’s Rockstars

Five Talents You Should Watch Out For From The U-20 World Cup

by Emmanuel Faith (2/9/22)

Above: The new U20 World Champions, Spain. Artwork: FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

Although the FIFA under-20 World Cup wrapped up on Monday, a lot of football fans are still basking in the array of exhilarating moments of the tournament.

From Spain scoring three goals in 27 minutes, to Brazilians singing for and wrapping the player of the tournament Maika Hamano in a warm embrace, and Tarciane scoring a bicycle kick to put her team ahead against Dutch after losing a penalty, monumental moments like this would live in our hearts forever.

FIFA Under-20 World Cups have produced players that later went on to shine for their countries and this year’s edition is no exception. Having witnessed amazing talents like Christine Sinclair of Canada in 2002, Marta of Brazil in 2004, Alexandra Popp of Germany in 2010, and the Nigerian whiz Asisat Oshoala in 2014. Costa Rica has shone the lights on another amazing set of talents and below are a few you should watch out for.

1. Tarciane Karen: The Brazilian defender and captain was one of the most outstanding players of the tournament. Besides scoring three important goals and shouldering the responsibility of being the team’s designated penalty taker, her leadership qualities marshalled the Brazilian defence while contributing to the attack with her pace when and tackles when required. Little wonder the Brazilian coach Pia Sundhage mentioned in an interview that she would be glad to give her a trial time with the senior national team.

2. Inma Gabarro: How do you know a player who is going to be the football rockstar in the next couple of months? By her impressive goal-scoring abilities. Scoring eight goals in six matches was more than enough for the Sevilla attacking midfielder to pick up the golden boot and if she continues with this form, the Spanish senior team can be assured of another top-tier talent in a few years. Who knows, she might even be part of the team travelling to Australia and New Zealand.

Above: Maika Hamano (left), Inma Gabarro (centre), and Yuzuki Yamammoto (right) pose with the silver, golden, and bronze boots. Photo: FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

3. Imuran Abiola: Despite the quarter-final exit of the African starlets at the competition, the Nigerian team were one of the dazzling teams and the 18-year-old defender was one of the stars who glistened with resplendence. Apart from her incisive contributions to the attack, providing two assists during the process, her defensive contribution in the first two matches, positioned her as one of the stars to watch out for in the nearest future. It isn’t surprising she has been called up to the Super Falcons for their friendly against the reigning World champions, the United States.

4. Maika Hamano: She plays with grace, poise, and flair. Winning the golden ball award was a deserving consolation for the Japanese striker whose immense contribution kept the Asian heroines going. While a lot of Asians haven’t been in the spotlight in Europe and WSL, we have seen the likes of Ji So-Yun and Sam Kerr of Chelsea, Iwabuchi of Arsenal, Saki Kumagai of Bayern Munich engrave their name in the frame of modern football. Hamano might be following their footsteps soon, especially if she makes it to the FIFA World Cup next year or the Olympics in 2024.

5. Yaya: The Brazilians were a handful in the tournament and the lanky midfield maestro was one of the spotlights of the young Selecaos. The way she dazzles the ball reminds you of prime Marta, or Ronaldinho, and who knows, she might be playing in the NWSL or Europe in the nearest future.

Above: The Brazilian rockstars; Yaya and Tarciane celebrate a goal. Photo: FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

There are also astounding talents like the dazzling Dutch midfielder Liz Rijsbergen, the Nigerian midfield engine Esther Onyenezide, the Spanish forward; Slama Paralluelo among others.

The world is waiting for these talents and we can’t wait to see how far they would go. Which other amazing youngster caught your attention? Please comment below.

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