Slovenian pair Rene Krhin and Tim Matavz, Ryad Boudebouz of Algeria and Serbia’s Radosav Petrovic were all spectators on Day 3 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Milovan Rajevac and Joachim Low were, between them, responsible for keeping another five Hyundai Best Young Player Awards candidates benched today, while the latter only introduced Marko Marin as an 81st-minute substitute.
The respective coaches of Ghana and Germany did, however, give one contender apiece a long enough an opportunity to excel. That, as FIFA.com reflects upon, they did emphatically.
Andre Ayew: The Ghana left-winger spent last season on loan at Arles Avignon in the French Ligue 2. His marker against Serbia, Branislav Ivanovic, enjoyed an excellent 2009/10 campaign for Chelsea in the English Premier League. That gulf in competition was not, however, evident at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Ayew, indeed, tricked the right-back on multiple occasions and twice presented team-mates with goalscoring chances. On a day when the Black Stars took the first step towards beating more illustrious rivals to the biggest prize in football, their young star took the first step towards outstripping more celebrated contenders to a prestigious individual prize.
Thomas Muller: The Germany No13 was magnificent throughout against Australia in Durban, creating one, scoring another and proving an incessant source of torment to his opponents in a 4-0 victory. Muller started brightly, teasing the Socceroos from his berth on the right flank, and he set up Lukas Podolski's goal with a crafty, accurate cut-back. The Bayern Munich player then turned scorer in the 68th minute, receiving the ball just inside the area, side-stepping a challenge, and dispatching the ball in off the post. His impressive all-round display also included purposeful off-the-ball movement and defensive clearances. Ultimately, Muller staked an early claim to the Best Young Player throne his team-mate Lukas Podolski seized in 2006.