2010 AFC U-16 Championship: Where are they now?

October 24 marks 10 years to the day since the AFC U-16 Championship kicked off in Uzbekistan, where a number of today's biggest stars turned out for their countries as they took the early steps in what have turned out to be fruitful careers.

A decade on since that tournament, which was won by DPR Korea after they defeated the hosts in the final, the-AFC.com takes a look at how some of those involved have progressed.

Takumi Minamino (Japan)
Caps: 24 Goals 11
Current club: Liverpool; Former clubs: Cerezo Osaka, Red Bull Salzburg

Minamino2

Two-time winners Japan went into the competition with a squad that featured a forward who all followers of Asian football will now be only too familiar with: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino, who was just 15 years old at the time.

Minamino got off to the perfect start with three goals in the group stage before he added a brace in the quarter-final victory over Iraq. The dream would end in the semi-final, however, as the Samurai Blue exited to DPR Korea but the forward did finish as the joint top scorer.

Takumi Minamino-Liverpool-AFP

Two years later the Osaka native made his J.League debut for hometown club Cerezo before turning out for Japan's senior team for the first time in 2015, and his talent soon caught the eye of those in Europe.

Five hugely successful and trophy-laden years in Austria with Red Bull Salzburg followed, while he also scored in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final, before Liverpool acquired his services and he promptly won the English Premier League.


Sardar Azmoun (IR Iran)
Caps 51: Goals: 33
Current club: Zenit Saint Petersburg; Former clubs: Sepahan, Rubin Kazan, Rostov

Azmoun U16

Holders Islamic Republic of Iran also boasted a future star within their ranks as a 15-year-old Sardar Azmoun was part of a squad that ultimately failed to live up to the standards set in the previous campaign.

Azmoun was on the scoresheet in a 5-1 opening-day win over Oman, although the wheels came off in the next two matches as the Iranians exited following a defeat to DPR Korea and a draw with Syria.

Sardar Azmoun-Zenit-AFP

By 2013, at the age of just 17, Azmoun was on the move to Russia where he forged his reputation with both Rubin Kazan and Rostov while by 2014 he was a fully fledged international. He has since scored 33 goals in 51 games for his country and is widely considered Team Melli's star man.

On the club scene, 2019 proved a major breakthrough year as the forward moved to Zenit Saint Petersburg, where he has gone on to win back-to-back Russian Premier League titles and finished as the league's top scorer in the 2019-20 campaign.


Omar Khrbin (Syria)
Caps: 44 Goals: 18
Current club: Al Hilal; Former clubs: Al Wahda, Air Force Club, Al Minaa, Al Dhafra, Pyramids

Omar Khrbin (2)

It took just five minutes of Omar Khrbin's AFC U-16 Championship debut for him to open his account, with the striker finding the back of the net in a 1-1 draw with DPR Korea before the West Asians advanced from the group stage.

There were no more goals for the 16-year-old, however, as Syria exited at the quarter-final stage after defeat to Uzbekistan, but Khrbin would go on to bigger and better things in the years to come.

Omar Khribin

It was in 2017 that the Damascus native truly shot to stardom when he scored a tournament-leading 10 goals in the AFC Champions League as Al Hilal narrowly lost out on the title before he was later named the AFC Player of the Year.

On the international stage, Khrbin also played a huge role as Syria went deep into the qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup while he was also on the scoresheet for the Qasioun Eagles at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.


Milos Degenek (Australia)
Caps 28: Goals: 1
Current club: Red Star Belgrade; Former clubs: VfB Stuttgart II, 1860 Munich, Yokohama F. Marinos, Al Hilal

Degenek4

Australia produced an excellent performance to reach the semi-finals in Tashkent after topping a group comprising Timor-Leste, Vietnam and Japan – a scoreless draw against the Japanese being the only game Milos Degenek started, although he did make regular appearances from the bench.

The Olyroos defeated the United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals before exiting to the hosts in the last four, while Degenek's development continued in the ensuing years and he was enticed to Germany by Vfb Stuttgart at the age of 18.

Milos Degenek-Australia

The Croatia-born defender spent a couple of seasons with 1860 Munich before joining Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan. After making his debut for Australia in 2016, he helped the Socceroos qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and later played every minute of every game in his country's run to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 quarter-finals.

Degenek headed back to Europe in 2018, joining Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade in 2018 and, after a brief stint with Al Hilal in 2019, he returned to Belgrade to be part of the side that won the 2019-20 Serbian SuperLiga.


Dhurgham Ismail (Iraq)
Caps: 53 Goals: 3
Current club: Al Zawraa; Former clubs: Al Shorta, Caykur Rizespor

Dhurgham Ismail

The 2010 competition in Uzbekistan marked the start of Dhurgham Ismail's rise on the international scene and, while Iraq exited at the quarter-finals, the left-sided player has enjoyed a remarkable journey with his country since, starting with winning the AFC U-22 Championship in Oman in 2014.

By the 2015 AFC Asian Cup he was a regular for the senior Iraq team and helped the West Asians reach the semi-finals, scoring in the 3-3 draw against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the quarter-finals before the Iraqis advanced on penalties. He was later named in the Team of the Tournament.

Dhurgham Ismail (Iraq)

The following year Ismail was selected for the Lions of Mesopotamia's squad for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where Iraq played out an unbeaten campaign which included a draw with hosts Brazil only to exit, with heads held high, at the group stage.

Ismail's club career began with plenty of success at Al Shorta before he joined international teammate Ali Adnan's former side Caykur Rizespor in Turkey. A regular during two seasons in Rize, injury would play a part in a return home as he rejoined Al Shorta before signing for Baghdad rivals Al Zawraa this year.


After reading up on the young players from 2010 who have made it big, tell us who you believe has become the greatest success story by voting below.

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