It was a quiet day in the hunt for the Hyundai Young Player award here at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Not one of the matchday’s four candidates eligible for the prize, awarded to the top youngster playing in his first world finals, made it off the bench.
Friday the 13th was bad luck for Fabrice Olinga, as the tournament’s youngest first-timer was a frustrated unused substitute in Cameroon’s drab 1-0 loss to North American powers Mexico. Perhaps the 18-year-old forward, understudy to the iconic and aging Samuel Eto’o, will emerge in the future plans of coach Volker Finke, who will be desperate for his side to conjure up some goals in their two remaining Group A matches. Olinga’s pace and guile might be just what the doctor ordered.
The promising Dutch duo of Memphis Depay and Terence Kongolo were not needed on the day, but they got plenty of exercise on the bench, celebrating an avalanche of goals as their team stormed to a 5-1 win over Spain. Australia’s young No9 Adam Taggart also played no part in the Socceroos’ loss to Chile.
An deluge of candidates could be in action tomorrow on Matchday 3. Chief among them are the English quartet of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw. Coach Roy Hogdson has decided to gamble on fresh faces. Any of the four Three Lion cubs could see playing time against Italy.
Colombian centre-back Eder Alvarez Balanta and Juan Fernando Quintero have less than ten caps between them, but Quintero could be used as a creative influence from the bench. Two seldom-used keepers still learning their trade will be on the bench for tomorrow’s games too. Stefanos Kapino of Greece and Ivorian Sayouba Mande are unlikely to get on the pitch, but this is football and anything can happen.
Uruguayan centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez, of Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, is a classic Charrua hard-man in the making and he will be watching on eagerly, waiting his turn.