The four eligible Hyundai Best Young Player Award candidates endured a mixed time on Day 10 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss and Miroslav Stoch took the field in a 2-0 loss against combative South Americans Paraguay, while New Zealand duo Tommy Smith and Chris Wood also played their part as the Kiwis secured a history-making draw against world champions Italy.
Vladimir Weiss: The 20-year-old Manchester City midfielder played a full game and turned in a competent performance against Paraguay. The central Europeans struggled to make headway against Gerardo Martino's well-organised and physically uncompromising back line. Son of Slovakia coach Vladimir, he looked at times the most adventurous player on his team as he worked up and down the right flank, although he blotted his copy book in the latter stages by picking up a caution for a foul.
Miroslav Stoch: Came on for defender Kornel Salata with only eight minutes to go allowing him little opportunity to make an impact for a team chasing a one-goal deficit at the time. One of the bright young hopes of Slovakian football, Stoch, who is contracted to Chelsea but currently on loan at Twente Enschede, found the time to have one shot charged down but otherwise was unable to make a difference.
Tommy Smith: The young Ipswich Town defender will long remember his 90 minutes against the FIFA World Cup holders. The former England youth international was adjudged to have pulled down Daniele De Rossi in the box midway through the first half allowing Vincenzo Iaquinta to pull his team level from the penalty spot. It was busy afternoon for Smith and fellow defenders Ryan Nelsen and Winston Reid, but the Kiwi defence remained steadfast under a second-half Azzurri onslaught.
Chris Wood: As he invariably does, the powerfully built Wood entered the fray as a second-half substitute, this time replacing Rory Fallon after 63 minutes. The inexperienced West Bromwich Albion striker performed admirably against an Italy defence led by veteran Fabio Cannavaro – he turned the Azzurri skipper on the edge of the penalty area only to see his shot screw narrowly wide. With Federico Marchetti beaten, the 18-year-old Wood was a mere foot or so away from etching his name into FIFA World Cup folklore.