Talent and perseverance are a potent blend, as Venezuela’s Daniuska Rodriguez proved in scoring one of the ten contenders for the 2016 FIFA Puskás Award for the best goal of the year.
Continuing our series of in-depth pieces on each of the goals in the running for the award, we turn the spotlight on the 17-year-old midfielder’s amazing solo effort against Colombia in the final four-team round of the South American Women’s U-17 Championship, a goal that left the thousands of fans who saw it in the flesh wide-eyed with admiration.
Tournament hosts and eventual champions Venezuela had eased into a 3-0 lead over Las Cafeteras when Rodriguez scored the goal of her young life, one that showed she has talent to burn and determination to match. You only have to watch the video to see that for yourself.
It all begins with her team-mate Dayana Rodriguez sending in a slightly over-hit cross from the left flank to the far post. Latching on to it with her back to goal and Colombia defender Sofia Montoya breathing down her neck, the Venezuelan youngster began her solo act.
Despite Montoya’s close attention, Daniuska managed to turn and then earn herself a little space with a neat drag-back, at which point Cafetera captain Manuela Venegas came across to contest possession, forcing the Venezuelan to turn away from goal again. Keeping close control of the ball as Venegas attempted to steal it from her and shepherd her out to the flank, Daniuska somehow wriggled free, right on the edge of the box.
Closing her down fast, however, was Montoya. With the ball still stuck to her feet, Daniuska spun inside her, switching the ball from right foot to left in the blink of an eye to leave Montoya flat on her back. Working an angle for herself as the goal finally came into view, Daniuska then let fly with a powerful left-footed drive that fizzed into the roof of the Colombia net.
The twinkle-toed goalscorer turned away with her arms out wide in celebration, as if aware that she had just done something very special indeed. “The day I scored the goal I told my team-mates I was going to be up for the Puskás, and I wasn’t wrong,” she told the Venezuelan FA’s website. Even so, Daniuska could barely contain herself when confirmation came through. “When I saw that I was nominated for one of the top FIFA awards I just burst into tears.”
Will the young Venezuelan make the three-player shortlist and earn an invitation to The Best FIFA Football Awards™ on 9 January? The answer to that question lies with you. You have until 2 December to decide on your favourite goal from the ten contenders for the accolade. So get voting now!