As the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ progresses ever further, it is becoming increasingly apparent just how important the candidates for the Hyundai Young Player Award are to their sides, with performances that are more than justifying the faith their coaches are putting in youth.
As was the case just a few days ago, Dutch attacker Memphis Depay drew the plaudits after a sensational performance after entering the field as a substitute. He crowned his display late on by finishing off a rapier counter-attack to seal the Netherlands’ victory over Chile in a match in which Depay’s team-mate Terence Kongolo also made his tournament debut as a late substitute.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, Australian striker Adam Taggart also took to the pitch as a starter for the first time at a World Cup as his side took on Spain. Unfortunately for the No9, neither he nor his team were able to match the soon-to-be-ousted world champions and he was substituted at half-time.
Later on in the evening Croatia coach Niko Kovac included two fresh faces in his line-up against Mexico. Needing a win to stay in the competition, the tactician thrust Mateo Kovacic and Ante Rebic into the fray, but regrettably neither was able to make their presence felt, although the latter was sent off for an over-enthusiastic tackle.
Tomorrow’s action promises to be no less intense for the tournament youngsters, with a quartet of players potentially able to play in the early kick-offs. Jose Maria Gimenez is certain to start at the heart of Uruguay’s defence, while it is highly likely that Roy Hodgson will give playing time to Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw for an England side that have already packed their bags for home.
In the later fixtures, Juan Fernando Quintero, who was in irresistible form in his last game for Colombia, will be eager for a repeat performance against Japan in a fixture his compatriot Eder Balanta will be hoping will give him a first taste of action at the finals. The same goes for Côte d’Ivoire’s Sayouba Mande and Greece’s Stefanos Kapino, although their chances of appearing are more remote.