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FIFA Under-20 World Cup: Five Players To Watch

The FIFA Under-20 World Cup is only days away from kick-off in South Korea.

Some of the world’s best young players will be taking centre stage and showcasing their skills in a bid to see their country reach cup glory.

Newsbeat journalist, Reece Labuschagne, names five players that could set the tournament alight.

Alban Lafont (France) 

Lafont in action for Toulouse in a Ligue 1 fixture. Photo: Google Images

Nationality: French
Age: 18

Position: Goalkeeper
Club: Toulouse F.C

Alban Lafont’s rise in professional football has been nothing short of meteoric. At just sixteen-years-old, the the goalkeeper made his Ligue 1 debut for Toulouse, making him the youngest to ever do so. He has since gone on to make fifty-nine caps, and has established himself as their number-one keeper and one of the best young players in football. Despite his age, Lafont demonstrates incredible calmness and also has incredible feet for a goalkeeper, due his earlier days in football where he was an outfield player. His talents where on full display in a 2-0 victory over champions, Paris St-Germain F.C, where he earned man-of-the-match honors. Lafont’s experience of top-flight of football and calmness will be vital to France’s defense and structure at the back.
Sheyi Ojo (England)

Ojo has already made several appearances for Premier League club, Liverpool. Photo: Google Images

Nationality: English
Age: 19
Position: Winger
Club: Liverpool F.C

Ojo has somewhat fallen out of favour at Liverpool after being out of action due to a long-term injury ahead of the 2016-2017 Premier League season. Prior to the injury, Ojo exploded onto the scene, earning himself eight caps and three assists in the 2015-2016 season. Ojo is technically superb and possess incredible pace, but it’s lack of work ethic and effort Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp has reveled he needs to improve on. Ojo should shine at the the tournament, and he will certainly be using it as a platform in a bid to become a regular feature for Liverpool next season.


José Gomes (Portugal)

José Gomes in action for the Portugal Under-19 national team. Photo: Google Images

Nationality: Portugese
Age: 18
Position: Forward
Club: Benfica F.C

Born in Guinea-Bissau, the player nick-named ‘Zé Golo’ moved to Benfica after impressing at a youth tournament in Algarve in 2011. He found the net with regularity at youth level, and after his U17 EURO exploits last summer, where he was crowned ‘Golden Player’ and was the tournaments top scorer, he was called-up to the Benfica senior side following an injury crisis. The forward made his debut in a 2-1 victory at Arouca, and later went on to become the clubs youngest ever UEFA competitive player, at 17 years and 174 days. Gomes is a natural finisher, a penalty-box predator and seems to always be on the end of everything, scoring a number of goals by the way of headers. He will be key to Portugal’s success, who’ll be looking to emulate their senior counter-parts, who were crowned Euro 2016 champions last year.


Federico Valverde (Uruguay)

Valverde is a very experienced player at youth level, making several appearances for the Uruguayan youth teams. Photo: Google Images

Nationality: Uruguayan
Position: Midfielder
Club: Real Madrid F.C

After impressing for the Uruguayan youth teams, super-giants Real Madrid signed the then sixteen-year-old for €5 million, after beating out the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea for the wonderkids signature. Now eighteen, the midfielder has become a regular feature for Real Madrid’s ‘B’ side, Castilla. Velverde is a skilled player, who is equally adept to playing on the right side of the park. He has already been compared to fellow Real Madrid player, Rodríguez, because of his superior passing and finishing ability, and has been dubbed the “next Toni Kroos”. Valverde’s experience will also be vital to his teams success at the tournament, being only one of four players in the squad to be plying their trade overseas.


Luther Singh (South Africa)

Singh has already featured for the senior South Africa national team. Photo: Google Images

Nationality: South Africa
Age: 19
Position: Forward
Club: Braga F.C

Luther Singh’s performances for ‘Amajita’ saw clubs like Real Madrid after the youngsters signature, before being snapped up by Portuguese powerhouse, Braga F.C. The forward was instrumental in South Africa’s qualification for the tournament, leading his team to a fourth-place finish at the 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations. He won the ‘Golden Boot’ and was also named in the ‘Team of the Tournament’. Singh is a very confident player and possesses incredible place, and is capable of play on either wing, or upfront as he is able to use both feet. His form has seen him already earn himself a call-up to the senior South African national team, making his debut against Angola. South Africa will be looking to Singh and ex-Auckland City F.C player, Liam Jordan, for goals and spark upfront.



Reece Labuschagne
Reece is an aspiring sports journalist, broadcaster and analyst. He is currently attending the New Zealand Radio Training School in Auckland and hopes to obtain a diploma in Radio Journalism and Broadcasting.
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