Hyundai award contenders jockeying for position

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ began with 54 players in contention for the Hyundai Best Young Player award, all of them born after 1 January 1995, the cut-off date for the accolade.

Some 28 of them have now bidden farewell to the tournament, following the elimination of eight teams in the first round. Though their chances of lifting the Trophy have gone, FIFA’s Technical Study Group will still be taking their efforts into consideration when it comes to picking the player of the tournament.

The TSG will have their work cut out picking a winner, with some of the remaining 26 candidates having been in superb form, not least the Canadian contingent. Described by Canucks coach John Herdman as the Christine Sinclair of his back-line, defender Kadeisha Buchanan has had a big hand in the hosts’ progress to the last 16, as has Ashley Lawrence with her tireless work in midfield and opening goal in the 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.

“Not everything is going to go right for you in a game,” she told after her stellar performance against the Dutch. “You’re going to make a bad pass or the wrong move, but you can’t let that affect the rest of your work. You have to keep going and you have to make the next step.”

Another player who has been taking that next step is Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, who picked up a Live Your Goals Player of the Match award** **after scoring a brace in her side’s 3-1 defeat of Côte d’Ivoire and also got on the scoresheet in the 4-0 defeat of Thailand.

The only Brazilian player eligible for the Hyundai award, Andressa staked her claim with an LYG Player of the Match-winning performance in A Canarinha’s narrow defeat of Costa Rica, while Raissa Feudjio, Cameroon’s sole pretender to the crown, appeared in all three of the African side’s matches in the group phase, which ended with them checking into the knockout round for the first time.

Meanwhile, Switzerland, who took third place in Group C behind Cameroon, have four potential candidates for the award, the best-placed of them being Noelle Maritz, who has started all their games to date.

An U-20 world champion with Germany at Canada 2014, Sara Dabritz has made an impressive start to the tournament with two goals in the first round, while team-mate Pauline Bremer, who also formed part of that world title-winning side, has spent a mere ten minutes on the pitch to date.

Two other potential winners to have been largely bench-bound so far are France’s Kadidiatou Diani and Griedge Mbock Bathy, while playing time has not been a problem for Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema, a starter in their three outings in Group A, albeit without a goal coming her way.

With the knockout rounds still to come and an awful lot of football to be played yet at Canada 2015, the race to succeed Australia’s Caitlin Foord, the recipient of the Hyundai Best Young Player award at Germany 2011, remains wide open.