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Six players who lit up the group stage

Chonburi: After 12 matches, 52 goals and no shortage of memorable moments, the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 group stage has come and gone with four teams advancing to the semi-finals.

As Japan, China PR, DPR Korea and Australia prepare for Wednesday’s semi-finals, looks at six talented youngsters who have shone on the big stage in Chonburi.

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Myong Ju-yong - DPR Korea

An unused member of DPR Korea’s title-winning squad as a 14-year-old in 2017, Myong has been a revelation in Chonburi, starring up front with four goals in three matches.

That tally makes her equal leader in the race for the top scorer award, but equally impressive is the wide variety of ways Myong can hurt opponents, with dazzling turns, brave headers and perfectly placed finishes all on show in the opening week of DPR Korea’s campaign.

It remains to be seen if she can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ri Un-sim and Kim Kyong-yong by winning the top scorer award, but what is already known is that DPR Korea’s newest scoring sensation is a player of genuine promise.

Moe Ota - Japan

Japan were irresistible against Bangladesh on Matchday Two, totally outclassing the South Asians in a superb 9-0 win, and central midfielder Ota was the chief architect.

The JFA Academy Fukushima pupil was sensational at IPE Chonburi Stadium, producing 12 key passes, four assists and one excellent goal in a virtuoso performance Bangladesh had no answer to.

Ota also delivered a team-high three key passes in Japan’s opening 0-0 draw against Australia, and should be fresh for the semi-finals after remaining on the bench in their final group match against Thailand.

Hana Lowry - Australia

Australia have impressed on the way to their first AFC U-16 Women’s Championship semi-final since 2009 and one of their key contributors has been attacking midfielder Lowry.

The Western Australian 16-year-old has shone in Chonburi, utilising excellent awareness and a cultured left foot to serve as both a creator and finisher of chances for Rae Dower’s side.

The youngster scored twice in Australia’s 6-1 win over Thailand and was heavily involved in her side’s best attacking moments against Bangladesh before delivering a pinpoint cross for Claudia Mihocic’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw.

Shao Ziqin – China PR

Scorer of a Continent-high 16 goals in just six matches in qualifying, China PR’s Shao Ziqin has played a key role in her side’s march to the semi-finals.

The attacking focal point of Chan Yuen Ting’s side, 179cm-tall Shao has scored in both of China PR’s group stage wins, slotting a perfectly placed penalty against Korea Republic before netting a headed winner against Vietnam which had as much to do with her fierce desire to get onto the end of the cross as her height.

A national youth league winner with Jiangsu last season alongside twin sister and fellow national team player Zijia, Shao appears on track to feature at higher levels in the near future.

Maika Hamano – Japan

Level with Myong on top of the scoring charts, Japan’s Hamano has proven herself a highly effective forward, scoring doubles against both Bangladesh and Thailand.

While the Cerezo Osaka youngster hasn’t provided the spectacular goals of some of her teammates, she has shown a regular ability to be in the right place at the right time and the composure to finish her chances.

Four goals in three matches is good form by anyone’s standards, but it was Hamano’s assist for Hanon Nishio’s strike against Thailand which showed her football IQ, with the 15-year-old producing a sumptuous one-touch, no-look pass for Japan’s third goal.

Sin Pom-hyang – DPR Korea

Already an AFC U-16 Women’s Championship winner after making two substitute performances as a14-year-old in Chonburi in 2017, Sin has used her experience to great effect in Chonburi.

A driving force in the middle of the park, Sin has shown she can win the ball, launch attacks and seemingly run all day while leading her side to three emphatic group stage wins, earning Player of the Match honours in the 4-0 success against China PR.

She has also found time to score three goals in as many matches, putting DPR Korea’s impressive captain equal third on the scoring charts despite playing as a central midfielder.

Photos: AFC

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