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FIFA U-17 World Cup: 10 players to watch out for

A number of talented players will be in action at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup. We pick ten names who could stand out

football Updated: Sep 23, 2017 17:05 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mexico’s Jairo Torres (L) and USA’s Josh Sargent will look to impress at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Mexico’s Jairo Torres (L) and USA’s Josh Sargent will look to impress at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(AFP/Getty Images)

The FIFA U-17 World Cup is less than a month away and excitement for the tournament is beginning to reach a fever pitch. The tournament will see hosts India take part in a FIFA tournament for the first time ever. It will also serve as a breeding ground for the superstars of the future to make a name for themselves.

Many notable names have first caught the attention of the world with their performances in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Here we look at 10 players likeliest to do just that in this year’s edition:

Josh Sargent

Josh Sargent has already created a few ripples with his performances in age-group tournaments. (AFP/Getty Images)

Josh Sargent has already represented USA’s U-20 national side in the FIFA U-20 World Cup held earlier this year. He scored two goals as USA were knocked out in the quarterfinals by eventual runners up Venezuela. He also played a key role in helping USA qualify for the U-17 World Cup, scoring 5 goals as they reached the finals of the CONCACAF U-17 Championships. The tricky forward has an eye for goal and a skill set that has already seen him train with clubs like PSV Eindhoven and FC Schalke 04, meaning the future is bright for the O’Fallon, Missouri native.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: USA hope to maintain heavyweight tag

Abel Ruiz

Abel Ruiz is a La Masia product. (AFP/Getty Images)

Abel Ruiz is a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy and has scored 19 goals in 23 appearances for Spain’s U-17 national team. That in itself is enough to make anyone sit up and take notice, but the young Spaniard is more than just a goalscorer. It was under his leadership that Spain won their ninth UEFA European U-17 Championships earlier this year. Ruiz scored four goals in the tournament and was awarded the silver boot. He has attracted the interest of top clubs from around Europe including Chelsea and Arsenal, and Barcelona have high hopes for the ever-improving youngster.

Aniket Jadhav

Aniket Jadhav had played for Pune FC’s youth teams. (AIFF)

Aniket Jadhav started his career as a winger, but his ability to beat players and find the net on a regular basis saw his coach play him as a forward. His considerable talent saw West Germany legend Paul Breitner select him to represent India at the FC Bayern Youth Cup in 2014. Having starred for Pune F.C. at the youth level as well as shining for India’s U-17 side, there are high hopes that he will do well in this tournament. Aniket Jadhav wants to play for a top club outside India one day, and a few good performances for his country might just help him achieve his dream.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: India carry a billion plus people’s expectations

Jairo Torres

Jairo Torres made his senior club debut at the age of 16. (AFP/Getty Images)

Jairo Torres has already made his senior debut for Mexican side Club Atlas, despite being only 16 years old. The youngster also starred for Mexico’s U-17 national team as they won the CONCACAF U-17 Championship to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, scoring 3 goals in the process. What makes him so dangerous is that he isn’t just a goalscorer; he’s a team player that can create and dictate the play as well as find the back of the net when he wants to. Mexico will pin a lot of their hopes for doing well in the U-17 World Cup on this talented forward.

Youssof Koita

Youssof Koita put in some top performances in goal for Mali as the U-17 side went on to win the U-17 African Cup of Nations and secure qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He kept five clean sheets for the side, ensuring they had a solid defensive foundation to build on. Perhaps his best performance came in the semi-final of the tournament against Guinea. The game ended in a draw, necessitating a penalty shoot-out to determine the winners. Koita didn’t let in a single goal during the shoot-out, saving four penalties; his heroics ensured Mali reached the finals. His performances will be worth looking out for.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: 2015 runners-up Mali look to claim first title

Mohammed Dawood

Mohammed Dawood will be the striker leading the charge for the Iraq U-17 national side. Their only previous appearance in a FIFA U-17 World Cup wasn’t particularly memorable and saw them finish bottom of their group in 2013, but they have come a long way since then. This was evident when they won the AFC U-16 Championships, beating Iran on penalties in the final. Mohammed Dawood scored six goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick against Japan in the semi-finals. This earned him both the top goalscorer as well as player of the tournament awards, meaning he will be a danger to any side Iraq face.

Amine Gouiri

Amine Gouiri will look to bag a few goals at the tournament. (Getty Images)

Amine Gouiri is the player France will look to for goals when they arrive in India for the U-17 World Cup. The Olympique Lyonnais youth player shined during the 2017 U-17 European Championships, scoring eight goals and notching one assist in the course of the tournament. France had to take part in a play-off against Hungary to ascertain who qualified for the World Cup because neither side made the semi-finals. France won 1-0, and the winning goal in that fixture was courtesy of Gouiri. Expect the forward to be the player opposition teams look to man-mark whenever the France U-17 national team plays.

Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior is expected to be the next big Brazilian football star. (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior signed for Spanish giants Real Madrid earlier this year in a deal that will cost the La Liga champions €45M. The Brazilian forward will join them from Flamengo when he turns eighteen and has already drawn comparisons to compatriot Neymar Jr.

He played a key role in the Brazil U-17 team qualifying for the World Cup. He topped the scoring charts during the U-17 South American Championships 2017, scoring seven goals as Brazil won the tournament. He also bagged the tournament’s best player award. He is easily the most high-profile player who will be a part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup this year.

READ | Vinicius Junior set to be most expensive footballer to play in FIFA U-17 World Cup

Charles Spragg

Charles Spragg was the top-scorer in a New Zealand U-17 team that romped to the OFC U-17 Championships in order to ensure qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. New Zealand scored an astounding 27 goals as they won the tournament for a sixth consecutive time, with 7 goals coming courtesy of Spragg. He isn’t as well-known as some of the other names on this list, but that might just make him more of a threat for the opposition. New Zealand are easily the strongest side from Oceania, and Charles Spragg’s hunger for goals might just see them spring a few surprises in India.

Djibril Toure

Djibril Toure emerged as the top scorer in the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, scoring six goals and helping Guinea get a third place finish and seal their qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. However, the route to India wasn’t an easy one for Guinea. They had to go past African heavyweights Morocco just to qualify for the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations and were only denied a spot in the finals after being eliminated by eliminated by eventual winners Mali. They are definitely underdogs going into the tournament, but Djibril Toure’s penchant for goals will make him and Guinea hard to underestimate.