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FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup

Going for gold

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 adidas Golden Ball and adudas Golden Glove Awards
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The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Jordan 2016 is reaching its climax, and only two teams are still in with a chance of lifting the trophy. And as Japan and Korea DPR prepare for their all-Asian final, defeated semi-finalists Spain and Venezuela will battle it out for the bronze medal. However, some of their players may still be in line to taste gold thanks to their individual performances at the tournament.

Following the conclusion of the semi-finals, FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG) in Jordan, headed up by former French defender Elisabeth Loisel, announced the shortlist of players in contention for the adidas Golden Ball, awarded to the tournament’s best player, and the adidas Golden Glove, for the best goalkeeper.

The names on the list
Unsurprisingly the list of nominees for the Golden Ball is dominated by players who will appear in the final, with four representatives from Japan and three from Korea DPR. As the only survivor from the Japan team that won the World Cup in 2014, captain Fuka Nagano is hoping to emulate her compatriot Hina Sugita, who won the award while captaining her nation to victory in Costa Rica two years ago. She is joined on the shortlist by sharp-shooting team-mates Riko Ueki and Hana Takahashi, who have scored four and three goals respectively, and Hinata Miyazawa, who has impressed with her vision, claiming three assists in the tournament to date.

Among those hoping to take the top individual prize back to Korea DPR is prolific striker Ri Hae-Yon, whosefive goals have also put her in contention for the Golden Boot, awarded to the tournament’s top goalscorer. She is joined on the shortlist by her strike partner Sung Hyang-Sim, as well as defensive stalwart Ri Kum-Hyang.

The award recognises players who have shone throughout the tournament, even if they will not have the opportunity to contest the final. Venezuelan star Deyna Castellanos has staked a strong claim, having almost single-handedly carried La Vinotinto to the semi-final stage with five crucial goals. Spaniard Laia Aleixandri, on the other hand, may have only scored once, but her long range strike against New Zealand will live long in the memory. She has caught the eye in La Rojita’s midfield, dictating her side’s play, while team-mate Candela Andujar’s all-action wing play has been a valuable asset for the Spanish attack, as well as a thorn in the side of every defence that she has come up against.

Between the sticks
The attackers have not had it all their own way at Jordan 2016, however, and they have frequently been left frustrated by fine goalkeeping displays. Noelia Ramos’ performance in Spain’s quarter-final triumph over Germany particularly stands out. Meanwhile, Korea DPR’s* Ok Kum-Ju* quickly recovered from conceding three goals in her side’s opening game against England to help her country reach the final, with a succession of spectacular and crucial saves.

Finally, while the quality of Japan’s attacking game has impressed throughout, they may not still have been in with a chance of defending their title were it not for the presence of Momoko Tanaka. The Little Nadeshiko’s first choice goalkeeper has put in a series of exceptional displays, in particular up against USA in the group stage, England in the quarter-finals and Spain in the last four.

The full list of nominees

*adidas Golden Ball
*Laia Aleixandri (ESP)
Candela Andujar (ESP)
Deyna Castellanos (VEN)
Hinata Miyazawa (JPN)
Fuka Nagano (JPN)
Ri Hae-Yon (PRK)
Ri Kum-Hyang (PRK)
Sung Hyang-Sim (PRK)
Hana Takahashi (JPN)
Riko Ueki (JPN)

*adidas Golden Glove
*Ok Kum-Ju (PRK)
Noelia Ramos (ESP)
Momoko Tanaka (JPN)

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