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An array of talented stars will compete for the gold at the Summer Games.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 has finally arrived after postponing for an entire year. Among the 28 sports on display, football will be played in two disciplines. With the rise of exciting new talents and the presence of some experienced campaigners with unmatched legacy, women’s football will be one of the events to watch out for. Many talented and top female footballers will be eyeing the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
With 12 participating teams, the stakes are as high as ever. The United States women’s team, who have won most gold medals (4) will look to continue their dominance. However, the rise of Great Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands make the tournament more competitive this time. Apart from the teams, there are also individual young talents and top female footballers to keep an eye on at the Tokyo Olympics.
Khel Now takes a look at the top 10 female footballers to watch out for at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
10. Shelina Zadorsky (Canada)
Canada’s hopes of making it to the podium will largely be based on their defensive strength. Shelina Zadorsky is coming on the back of an impressive club season with Tottenham Hotspur. She will be Canada’s star at the back.
With 20 starts for Tottenham Hotspur FC women, Zadorsky was influential in her individual accords. Crowned as the Spurs’ Player of the Season, the Canadian starlet impressed with her defensive as well as progressive capabilities. In order to tackle the mighty attacking units of this year’s Olympics, Zadorsky will have to repeat a similar feat.
9. Geyse Ferreira (Brazil)
Brazil’s squad for the Tokyo Olympics is as interesting as it can get. From a legend and experienced campaigner like Marta to a young prospect like Gio Queiroz, the team looks to have enough variety. Between the lines, Geyse Ferreira stands as the perfect balance of experience and talented young blood.
Her impressive 2020/21 season for Madrid CFF saw her score seven goals in 16 matches in the Spanish top flight. The 23-year-old forward has scored twice in nine appearances for the U-20 side but is yet to find the net for the senior team. With traits of an instinctive poacher, she will definitely look to capitalize on the creativity of the Brazilian setup.
8. Fran Kirby (Great Britain)
Fran Kirby’s season was amazing in terms of both collective and individual accolades. Not only did Chelsea lift the FA WSL 2020/21 trophy, Kirby also won the Football Writer’s Association Player of The Year title. The attacker was the beating heart of Chelsea FC Women’s attack, registering 16 goals and 11 assists in just 18 appearances.
While Great Britain’s team has plenty of players from WSL itself, Kirby’s ability to link up and make things tick in the final third will be instrumental. The England international has scored 14 in 46 games for the national team and will look to build on the impressive numbers.
7. Magdalena Eriksson (Sweden)
Considered one of the best European central defenders, Magda Eriksson impressed many during the 2020/21 season. The 26-year-old was one of the main pillars of Chelsea’s magnificent domestic campaign. In addition to her defensive duties, Eriksson also helped Chelsea progress forward and break lines with her through passes.
The Swede is known for her aerial superiority and is also comfortable in defending with the ball. As a ball-playing defender who can carry the ball forward and shoot, Eriksson will be vital in keeping things composed at the Swedish camp. Like the quarter-final win against the US women side in 2016, Sweden are equipped with elements that can cause upsets and the Chelsea defender’s name is on the top of the list.
6. Mana Iwabuchi (Japan)
New Arsenal signing Mana Iwabuchi will have a lot of things to prove at the Tokyo Olympics. After a relatively quiet season at Aston Villa, Iwabuchi will have a task to lead Japan’s candidacy for the Olympic gold. As an established player with 35 goals in 77 appearances for the national side, the forward definitely has the quality and calibre to lead the attack.
However, Iwabuchi and Japan will have to overcome their previous runners-up performances from the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Cup. With an impressive preparatory record behind them, Japan will look to clinch a podium finish, preferably the top one, in their own backyard.
5. Lieke Martens (Netherlands)
Barcelona’s treble-winning season saw Dutch superstar Lieke Martens slowly get back to her prime form. Despite leaving the club early to prepare for the Olympics, Martens scored 20 goals and assisted 16 times for the Blaugrana women. The attacking midfielder’s talent, in addition to her experiences, will be a key factor if the Dutch are to stand out in Tokyo.
Martens’ national team stint is not less impressive compared to her club records. At 28 years of age, she has 122 appearances for the Oranje, scoring 49 times. The Barcelona number 22, as always, will look to attack spaces as well as allow the forwards to operate freely with her service. Her ability to pull shots from outside the box will also be the one to watch out for.
4. Alex Morgan (USA)
Anyone that follows women’s football knows Alex Morgan as a prolific goalscorer. The forward has scored a whopping 110 goals in 180 appearances for the mighty USA women’s national team. For Orlando, Morgan has scored four times in seven appearances in 2021 so far.
Tokyo Olympics will be a golden opportunity for Morgan and the USA’s golden generation to grab their second gold. After falling out against Sweden in the quarter-finals in Rio, Morgan and the USA will eye a fifth Olympic gold. Morgan’s capability to receive from the wide and her strong presence in the air makes her a key element, alongside Christen Press in the attacking department.
3. Lucy Bronze (Great Britain)
Lucy Bronze made history in 2020 by becoming the first-ever defender to win FIFA Best Women’s Player award. The Manchester City full-back has been a standout performer in WSL ever since making her way from Lyon. At Lyon, Bronze was an integral part of a Lyon side that won nine trophies in their dominant era.
Bronze offers verticality from wide as well as central position depending on where she starts. At Manchester City’s women’s team, she is often tasked to make overlapping runs. However, she is also capable of making long progressive runs starting from City’s own half. For Great Britain, the English starlet will be a key player while going forward as well as defending on the flanks.
2. Sam Kerr (Australia)
Except for the lacklustre display in the final defeat against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final, Chelsea’s near-perfect campaign saw Sam Kerr get on the scoresheet more often than not. The Australian striker scored 21 times in 22 domestic games, while also assisting eight times.
Kerr is expected to top the scoring charts in Tokyo and has had a convincing national team career so far. Her 42 goals in 88 appearances will have to be bettered if Australia are to impress and clinch a medal with Kerr’s influential role.
1. Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands)
For many, Vivianne Miedema is the best women’s striker in the world right now. She will be one of the top female footballers to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics. Her 18 goals and five assists in 22 appearances for Arsenal Women only help to accentuate that claim. At Tokyo, she’s expected to repeat a similar performance with Lieke Martens present to feed her with lethal deliveries.
The Netherlands have been hailed as the team that can upset the US women’s national side this time around and it all revolves around Miedema. The all-time top scorer for the Netherlands will have to add to her 73 goal tally and integrate well to get going right from the start of the tournament.