Saturday 03 December 2016, 15:01

Asia’s young starlets shine

The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016 has finally drawn to a close after 32 matches. The tournament was crowned by an enthralling final between France and Korea DPR, who lifted the trophy for the second time since 2006 after clinching a 3-1 win.

While football is a team sport, several young players were recognised for particularly outstanding performances on the pitch along the way. Japan’s Hina Sugita was named as player of the tournament ahead of newly crowned world champion Kim So Hyang, Mylene Chavas collected the accolade for best goalkeeper and the Young Nadeshiko topped the fair play list compiled and monitored by FIFA’s Technical Studies Group (TSG).

Read on for yourself to discover whose bags will be a little heavier on the journey home.

adidas Golden Ball: Hina Sugita (Japan) Japan’s formidable team performances are underlined by the fact that the tournament’s best player and highest goalscorer come from within their ranks. Midfielder Hina Sugita was the linchpin of the side. Her deft movements, solid technique and relentless stamina made her difficult for opposition defenders to contain, while her range of perfectly placed passes repeatedly created chances for her team-mates. Sugita was previously named as the best player of the tournament at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014 in Costa Rica, where she captained her side to the title.

adidas Silver Ball: Kim So Hyang (Korea DPR) Papua New Guinea 2016 was the North Korean forward’s third major tournament appearance after the U-17 Women’s World Cup 2012 and the U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014. Having first attracted attention with three goals in five matches in Azerbaijan four years ago, Kim was the perfect model of the kind of deep-lying striker required in modern football. She is capable of both calling for the ball in attack and playing in her team-mates with pinpoint accuracy. All four of her goals came during the group stage, where she netted once against Sweden before scoring a hat-trick against the hosts in the next game.

adidas Bronze Ball: Delphine Cascarino (France) Les Bleuettes ended the tournament as runners-up largely thanks to the efforts of Delphine Cascarino. The technically adept midfielder scored one goal against Ghana and set up another against New Zealand, was named Live Your Goals Player of the Match twice in five games and fired her team into the semi-finals with a stunning strike against defending champions Germany. In the last four she provided the pass that led to France taking an unassailable lead in extra time. Her contribution to the squad was further underlined by the fact that she was given the captain’s armband on three separate occasions during the competition.

adidas Golden Boot: Mami Ueno (Japan/5 goals, 2 assists) "It was Ueno’s first Women’s World Cup for Japan,” her coach Asako Takakura told “She worked extremely hard during the tournament and improved considerably. There’s no doubt that she had a big hand in us finishing third. With her class, I’m sure she’ll take the full national team to the next level." After following up a hat-trick against Nigeria with another strike in the game with Canada, the 20-year-old saved the best until last, firing the Young Nadeshiko onto the bottom step of the podium with two more goals in the match for third place against USA.

adidas Golden Boot: Gabi Nunes (Brazil/5 goals, 1 assist) The Brazilian striker’s effectiveness, consistency and versatility impressed many in Papua New Guinea. She needed just five attempts to score five goals, and found the target in each of A Canarinha’s four Women’s World Cup matches. Nunes opened her account with a brace in the South Americans’ 9-0 win over the hosts before adding another goal in the 4-2 loss to Korea DPR, the1-1 draw with Sweden and the 3-1 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Japan.

adidas Bronze Boot: Stina Blackstenius (Sweden/5 goals, 0 assists) The Swede is a quick, strong and agile striker with a powerful shot who constantly looks for an opportunity to slip in behind defenders. Having scored a remarkable 20 times in ten games during qualifying, Blackstenius found the target twice in Rio at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament and netted an average of a goal a game for Swedish top flight side Linkoping. After this competition she can pride herself on having scored four times in a single Women’s World Cup match after netting two in each half during a 6-0 win over the hosts. Despite getting her name on the scoresheet again in Sweden’s 1-1 draw with Brazil, she was unable to prevent her side from an early exit after the group stage.

adidas Golden Glove: Mylene Chavas (France) The Technical Studies Group (TSG) named a goalkeeper as Live Your Goals Player of the Match just once in 32 games at this U-20 Women’s World Cup, which speaks volumes for the role Mylene Chavas played in her side’s quarter-final encounter with Germany. In addition to her sparkling performance against the defending champions, the 18-year-old kept a clean sheet in three of France’s six matches and conceded just six goals in the entire tournament, three of them in the final. Her coach Gilles Eyquem was understandably full of praise for his No1: "She’s an extremely talented goalkeeper with a very complete game,” he said. “This position comes with a lot of responsibility, so it’s vital that she has mastered it in the way that she has. She has plenty of good qualities, both when dealing with high balls and on the line, as she proved when saving a penalty against Ghana. She’s very good with her feet too. Although she’s still young, I believe she has a bright future ahead of her."

FIFA Fair Play Award: Japan By committing just 42 fouls and picking up a single yellow card in six matches at this tournament, the Young Nadeshiko quickly won the hearts of local fans with their impeccable conduct and earned the right to take home the FIFA Fair Play Award. As well as collecting a trophy, a medal for each member of the delegation and a certificate, the Japan Football Association also receives a cheque for $10,000 to be used for football equipment and promoting the women’s game.