The XI brightest stars from Siam’s night
From the heart of exotic Thailand, FIFA.com has carefully chosen eleven of the best and most promising players at the FIFA U-19 World Championship. This collection of budding starlets are sure to make their name in the future of the quickly growing game of women's football. With pleasure, we present to the world...
Elvira Todua (RUS)
Despite shipping 11 goals in just four games, the Russian keeper proved one of the revelations at her country's inaugural appearance at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship. Always alert and focused, the extremely tall and athletic Todua was a dependable last line of defence and exceedingly brave coming off her line. Her best performance was in the game against Spain, where she almost single-handedly kept the Iberians at bay. She also possesses the strength of character needed to command her area as well as the confidence and respect of her team-mates.
Wang Kun (CHN)
One half of the intimidating central defensive partnership for the stingy Steel Rosebuds, Wang Kun was a huge presence in the little-and-large tandem beside captain Sun Yongxia. The 1.75-metre tall Wang was a crucial factor in China’s ability to guard their box from the rivals’ marauding giants. Always relatively cool on the ball, the Hebei player scored from a beautiful but deadly free kick to initiate an important comeback against Italy in a 2-1 Group B fight back.
Sally Shipard (AUS)
At the ripe old age of 17, Sally Shipard is already a veteran of the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament. And heading into Thailand 2004, her stoic boss Adrian Santrac was expecting big things from his new shining star. Labelling her the future of the Matildas midfield and “the best midfielder from the Athens Games,” Santrac is not worried about putting a big burden on young Shipard’s narrow shoulders. With a shaky start to the finals, the Wagga Wagga New South Wales native always looked one of the finest gems from Down Under. Her ability on both sides of the ball and cool calm under pressure had her looking a woman among girls in a spirited but limited Aussie eleven. Surely we’ll all be seeing great things in the future from this young Oz starlet.
Angie Woznuk (USA)
Blessed with experience, vision and a wealth of talent, the stylish number ten is a natural leader and the best orchestrator of play on the USA side. She also possesses a footballing brain that belies her tender years and a sense of timing that is second to none. With her ability to inject pace into games or slow them down almost at will, the young midfielder has rightly become an indispensable member of side. The 19-year-old is capable of unlocking the tightest of defences and releases her side’s deadly strike force with almost consummate ease. She is, without doubt, the prized asset of the USA side. A quick glance at the team’s most dangerous moves shows that they almost all lead back to the feet of Woznuk.
Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi (GER)
Somewhere between a striker and a creator, Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi represents a new influence in German women's football. Born from mixed French and German parents, the silky number ten scored three goals in the group phase, while consistently playing the role of provider for striking queen Anja Mittag. With deft ball skills, searing pace and a willingness to try her luck on goal from even the dodgiest of positions, the creative sparkplug has been tipped by top German footballing authorities as one of the brightest shining stars in the country's vast firmament.
Stella Godwin (NGA)
Nigeria not only possessed their expected amount of flair but also an admirable work-rate and technical ability. Left-sided midfielder Godwin possessed those attributes in spades and was one of the most flamboyantly talented players going forward in the tournament. Only one of two Nigerians based abroad - she’s with Odense in Denmark - Godwin managed to bulge the net once against Brazil. But, in more than a handful of Nigeria’s five tallies, the 18-year-old starlet was directly involved in the creation of the goal. She’s surely one to watch for the talented African Champions in the future.
Football at its purest. Brazil is Marta. Usually deployed in an attacking midfield role, the player is capable of enthralling spectators with her dummies, runs, defence-splitting passes, not to mention her pile driver of a left foot. Her reading of the game is exemplary and her endearing gestures on the field are already the stuff of legend. A unique character in the women’s game, the mercurial midfielder thinks nothing of taking the fight to the opposition and often single-handedly carries her side across the finishing line. Moving around the pitch with pace and ease, the tireless Number 10 brings panache to the women’s game. Almost impossible to dispossess with the ball at her feat, she is a menace inside the area because of her blistering shot, and a threat outside of it with her ability to serve balls up for her team-mates on a plate. She is, in short, a world class performer.
Amy Rodríguez (USA)
With speed, skill on the ball and a willingness to run all day, Amy Rodríguez is the type of player that gives opposing defences sleepless nights. Her debut for the Stars and Stripes could not have been better as she scored two and made another on an emotional night. She likes to break at blistering speed down the left whenever the opportunity arises and has shown herself to be very much a team player with her unselfish passing in the area. Though not the tallest or most dominant in the air, her impressive physique allows her to mix it with the toughest of opponents and pose a threat from anywhere in the area.
Anja Mittag (GER)
Coming into the finals with a firm reputation as the most fearsome striker in Europe, not even the most cocksure of fullbacks at the Thai finals was going to give the FFC Potsdam player an inch. Even with the extra attention, Mittag stormed through with five goals in the group phase. One against Thailand, two against Australia and two against Canada had the powerful, determined frontrunner poised neck-and-neck with Brittany Timko of Canada for tournament top scorer honours. But it was her deft volley four minutes from time to draw level with Nigeria in the quarter-final from Chiang Mai that spoke volumes about her dogged character and steely nerves. Seeing her side straight through to the final, young Anja is most certainly in the running for top attacker at these finals.
Brittany Timko (CAN)
Not what you would call a natural striker, Timko’s training as a midfielder may well have made her into the perfect attacking option. Finding the gaps and holes with a creator’s precision, she surged through to grab six goals in a tough group A. With six goals in three matches, the effervescent, blonde midfielder-cum-forward was one tally out in front of Germany’s Anja Mittag heading into the quarter-finals. With another goal in a losing effort against China in the quarter-finals, young Timko ended her Thai campaign just three goals off teammate from Canada 2002 Christine Sinclair’s seemingly unassailable record of ten. Humble to the last, the lethal markswoman’s control, pace and killer instinct see her scale the heights of FIFA.com’s Thailand 2004 eleven shining stars.
Shy and unassuming off the field, the Brazilian striker becomes a veritable force of nature on it. With a combination of stealth and agility, she ruthlessly plunders opposing defences, helped in no small measure by her partner-in-crime Marta. With her strength and determination, Cristiane is adept at shaking off her markers and will pull the trigger given the slightest sniff of goal. If that were not enough, she is also adroit in the air where she makes full use of her height. All in all, a genuine predator in the box.