A closer look at the standout talents making waves at the tournament
The FIFA U17 World Cup has reached its crucial stage, with teams vying for a spot in the quarter-finals. While powerhouses like England and Concacaf representatives have failed to make it this far, a new crop of young talents has emerged and captured the attention of fans and scouts alike. From Argentina’s attacking force to Mali and Uzbekistan’s surprise performances, these rising stars have dazzled the Indonesian crowds. Let’s take a closer look at 12 standout players who have made a lasting impression.
Echeverri: Argentina’s Next World-Class No.10
Argentina’s attacking prodigy impresses with his technical brilliance
Argentina’s Echeverri has been a standout player for his team, forming a formidable attacking force alongside Agustin Roberto and Santiago Lopez. With his technical brilliance, magnificent vision, and powerful right-footed shot, Echeverri has displayed the qualities of a world-class No.10. His impressive passing skills, clever positioning, and ability to make late runs for one-touch finishes make him a player to watch. At just 17 years old, Echeverri is already on the radar of top European clubs and could soon be playing for a Champions League giant.
Elias: Brazil’s Rugged Centre-Forward
Brazil’s No.9 leads the line with his pace and clinical finishing
Elias, the joint top scorer of the South American U17 championship, has continued his impressive form in the World Cup. The rugged and compact centre-forward stretches the opposing defense with his pace and willingness to play off the shoulder of center-backs. Elias excels in the box, pouncing on rebounds and testing the goalkeeper with quick finishes. His technical ability allows him to beat defenders in tight situations and create chances even without support. At this young age, Elias is already attracting attention from scouts around the world.
Estevao Willian: Brazil’s Remarkable Talent
The 16-year-old sensation shines with his acceleration and powerful strikes
Despite coming off the bench in Brazil’s opening fixture, Estevao Willian has quickly gained momentum and impressed with his remarkable talent. The 16-year-old, nicknamed “Messinho,” showcases outstanding acceleration, exceptional command of his body, and the ability to strike the ball with power and precision from distance. His double against England in the Round of 16 showcased his ability to score crucial goals. Estevao Willian is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after prospects in Brazil’s star-studded squad.
Dudu: Brazil’s Creative Playmaker
The left-footed No.10 dazzles with his playmaking abilities and tenacity
While Elias and Estevao grab the headlines, Dudu has been the main instigator of Brazil’s free-flowing attack. The left-footed playmaker has registered an average of five key passes per game, showcasing his brilliant ability to set up combinations in the final third. Dudu’s excellent set-pieces and knack for timing third-player movements into the box make him a unique creative force. Despite being predominantly a creative player, Dudu is also tenacious and never shies away from pressing duties.
Joel Ndala: England’s Danger Man
The Manchester City winger impresses with his pace and off-the-ball movement
Joel Ndala, the Manchester City winger, has been England’s main danger man throughout the tournament. His last-minute winner against Iran showcased his phenomenal change of pace and highly developed off-the-ball movement. Ndala’s one-on-one abilities and great balance enable him to wrong-foot defenders with lightning-quick body feints. With his riveting period of development, it’s only a matter of time before Ndala makes his mark at the first-team level.
Bastien Meupiyou and Kayi Sanda: France’s Defensive Duo
The French central defensive pairing impresses with their composure and dominance
France’s perfect defensive record in the tournament can be attributed in part to the central defensive pairing of Bastien Meupiyou and Kayi Sanda. While both players have excelled, Kayi Sanda stands out with his calmness, dominance, physical presence, and excellent passing game. The French captain recently made his first-team debut for Valenciennes in Ligue 2, and bigger clubs are likely to show interest in the coming months.
Darvich: Germany’s Stylish Midfielder
The left-footed prodigy showcases exceptional tactical awareness and first-class movement
Darvich, the left-footed midfielder signed by Barcelona from Freiburg, has showcased his exceptional tactical awareness and first-class movement. Equally comfortable as a No. 8, 10, or inverted winger, Darvich possesses a wonderful understanding of the game, making line-breaking passes and displaying an outstanding first touch. With his clear mental picture of the movement around him, the 17-year-old is ready for greater challenges beyond youth level.
Sekou Kone: Mali’s Terrific Midfielder
The mobile defensive midfielder impresses with his athleticism and ball-striking technique
Sekou Kone has been one of the standout performers in a massively impressive Mali side. As a defensive midfielder, Kone covers vast areas of the pitch and displays smooth ball control and excellent ball-striking technique. His positioning skills allow him to anticipate the trajectory of the ball early for interceptions, and his ability to spread long passes is a joy to watch. Kone’s exciting performances have reportedly earned him a move to RB Salzburg when he turns 18.
Taha Benrhozil: Morocco’s Flamboyant Goalkeeper
The 17-year-old goalkeeper stands out with spectacular reflexes and a larger-than-life character
Morocco’s goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil may lack height, but he makes up for it with spectacular reflexes, well-timed exits, and a larger-than-life character. Despite his flamboyant style, Benrhozil is unphased by the occasional missed aerial interception, quickly recovering to be ready for whatever comes his way. His heroics in saving a decisive penalty against Iran in the Round of 16 made him the Moroccan hero.
Yaha Diame: Senegal’s Bright Winger
The 16-year-old winger poses a constant threat with his pace and creativity
Yaha Diame, the 16-year-old winger, has been a constant thorn in the side of defenders for Senegal. His accelerations, turns, and sparks of creativity down the right wing have caused problems for opposing teams. Although Senegal lost to France in the Round of 16, Diame’s performances showcased his potential as a dynamic and dangerous player.
Pau Cubarsi: Spain’s Elegant Centre-Back
The composed defender impresses with his passing ability and defensive prowess
Pau Cubarsi, an elegant centre-back, has stood out as one of the best defenders in the competition. Despite not being known for producing central defenders, Barcelona has a gem in Cubarsi. His exceptional composure in possession allows him to pick line-breaking passes with ease. Cubarsi’s timing, positioning, and aerial ability make him a strong box defender. With his promising future, the 16-year-old is set for greater things in the world of football.
Amirbek Saidov: Uzbekistan’s Threatening Striker
The movement-based forward impresses with his goal poaching abilities
Amirbek Saidov has been Uzbekistan’s best player, constantly threatening opponents with his movement and goal poaching abilities. The quick and sharp striker has a knack for running in behind the defensive line and finishing with both feet. His two goals against Spain showcased his efficiency as a goal poacher. Saidov’s performances have established him as a player to watch in the future.
The FIFA U17 World Cup has provided a platform for these rising stars to showcase their talents on the global stage. From Argentina’s attacking prodigy to Mali’s impressive midfielder, these young players have captivated audiences with their skill, athleticism, and composure. As they continue to develop and progress in their careers, it will be exciting to see how they leave their mark on the world of football.