Spain beat Japan 3-1 to claim the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup crown in front of 29,891 fans on Sunday night in Costa Rica. Spain was superb and a deserved winner led by Golden Boot winner Inma Gabarro, whose eight goals were double the next highest scorer. But arguably the most memorable moment of the night came after the match as awards were given out and Japan’s Maika Hamano was awarded the Golden Ball (Gabarro took silver).
Hamano played a key role in Japan’s intricate, fun-to-watch offense focused on quick, incisive movements and passes, scoring four goals for the Young Nadeshiko. Having just been defeated in the final, the humble Japanese forward wasn’t in too much of a mood to celebrate her Golden Ball (and Silver Boot) too heartily, barely cracking a smile when awarded the trophies.
Best Players!adidas Golden Ball: Maika Hamano
adidas Silver Ball: Inma Gabarro
adidas Bronze Ball: Tarciane #U20WWC | #VamosJuntas pic.twitter.com/2CqXLrm5lD
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 29, 2022
Fortunately, the Brazilian players were more than happy to celebrate for her.
Brazil, which hours earlier beat the Netherlands 4-1 to take third in the tournament, stuck around for the award ceremony. After Hamano was named the best player of the tournament, they swarmed around her and jumped in celebration, paying ultimate respect to the 18-year-old. All this despite the fact it was Hamano’s goal that knocked Brazil out in the semifinals.
Brazilian Players Celebrate Japanese Player
Respect , and so much love. @SelecaoFeminina giving adidas Golden Ball winner Maika Hamano some big cheers! @jfa_nadeshiko | #VamosJuntas pic.twitter.com/pKL2mNUPTx— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 29, 2022
You love to see that kind of sportsmanship, regardless of the level.
And if you’re wondering why the Americans weren’t involved in any of the matches mentioned above, that’s because the USWNT was knocked out in the group stage after 3-0 and 3-1 defeats to the Netherlands and Japan, respectively, for the worst performance at a U-20 World Cup in team history.