From MacAllister to Cunha: star players from Olympic qualifiers
The CONMEBOL Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying campaign saw both Argentina and Brazil secure their place at the summer Olympics.
CONMEBOL's pre-Olympic qualifying campaign saw both Argentina and Brasil advance to Tokyo 2020 with host nation Colombia ultimately disappointed. The recently concluded campaign did however offer some fine displays from young South American talents that certainly warrant keeping an eye out for:
Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton, midfield, Argentina)
Possibly the best player from the entire campaign from this central player who is comfortable with both tight and left foot. The 21-year-old has already secured SuperLiga Argentina football, on loan with both Argentinos Juniors and held down a place in the Boca Juniors team but now is set to join up with English Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion who hold his playing license.
Fausto Vera (Argentinos Juniors, midfield, Argentina)
Another solid member of the Argentine side who delivered competent displays alongside MacAllister. A hard worker and also far from goal-shy as we saw with his fine effort for the "Albiceleste" in the first game of the final phase against Uruguay. Has also debuted in the SuperLiga Argentina for "El Bicho".
Nehuén Pérez (Famaliçao, defender, Argentina)
A slip-up in the game against Brazil was a small blot on a wonderful tournament for the defender who was instrumental in solid defensive performances for Argentina and who also offered a threat in all dead ball situations. Pérez is officially an Atlético Madrid player but currently out on loan to newly promoted Liga Nos side Famalicao in Portugal.
Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen, winger, Brazil)
After impressing for Serie A side Vasco de Gama and later struggling at Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen following the 2018 move, the 19-year-old needed a solid performance at the pre-Olympic tournament to remind us all of his potential and talent. A constant threat for opposition sides and the Paulinho that Bayer fans are hoping to see.
Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin, striker, Brazil)
The 20-year-old striker discovered news of his transfer from RB Leipzig to Hertha Berlin during the tournament and his double in the final game against already qualified Argentina showed everyone the striker's capability. Un phased by the Bundesliga switch, the forward topped the scoring chart at the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers with five goals for the Selecao.
Jorge Carrascal (River Plate, winger, Colombia)
Carrasacal has all the hallmarks of a great winger, but, as we've seen in his performances for River Plate, the winger (who has had spells in Spain and Ukraine) needs to deliver big performances on a more consistent level.
Edwin Cetré (Junior, striker, Colombia)
Playing back in his native Colombia after a spell with Liga MX side Santos Laguna, the forward was on target in every game of the final phase but his goals were unable to assist the host nation from advancing to the Tokyo games.
Manuel Ugarte (Fénix, midfielder, Uruguay)
The standout player in a Uruguay side that ultimately disappointing, 18-year-old Ugarte was on target in the game against Brazil and is showed composure and creativity at the heart of the Uruguayan side.
Víctor Ábrego (Destroyers, striker, Bolivia)
Possibly the surprise player of the tournament under head coach César Farías despite his Bolivia side not progressing past the first phase of the tournament. Ábrego was unquestionably the key player for a a "La Verde" side lacking team-mates with a similar technical level to assist the side.
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