Fenerbahce‘s Salih Ucan and Fulham‘s Kerim Frei are the two players that are looked at to lead their under-20 national squad at home.
They are both young at the age of 19, but both have shown many signs that they will become stars later on in their careers. Much should not be expected from them in a tournament full of talented teams, but they should still put that pressure on their shoulders to perform at the highest level in front of their home crowd.
Ucan plays for Fenerbahce of the Turkish Super League. He featured quite a few times in the domestic league, and even a couple of times in the Europa League as he scored in the 1-1 draw at home against Viktoria Plzen. He is not full of tricks but when he has the ball at his feet, he either sends a slick pass, does a nifty move to evade opponents, or takes an unexpected shot inside the final third that tests the keeper.
Ucan is wise beyond his years as his maturity allows him to play like a 30-year-old. At 19 years of age, he is showing signs that he will be a huge part of Turkey’s future in all competitions if nothing unexpected occurs.
Frei plays for Fulham of the Premier League and is already being courted by top clubs from Turkey and others around Europe. As a left winger, he has speed, vision and crossing ability that boosts his team in the final third in scoring goals.
In fact, his biggest feat was accomplished on the senior international when his assist tied the game for Turkey in their 500th international game against Denmark. He came in off the bench and added a much-needed spark.
The difference is that in this tournament, he is expected to start each and every game possible and will be playing on the left wing as well. Since he has that senior level experience, he will be looked at as one of the leading figures on the team.
Both Ucan and Frei already have a lot of pressure on them to perform well. With El Salvador, Colombia and Australia in their group, they certainly have a lot of work to do as they need to gather their troops, gain their trust and make the game-changing decisions on the field.
Judging by their current experience, they can get the job done.