AFC Champions League Special-Young Players to watch out for
Asia’s biggest club competition, the AFC Champions League has already started. Every year, there are a few young players who impress in this tournament so let’s take a look at some young players who we all might see in the future as the mainstays of their
club and country.
Club: Al Gharafa (Qatar)
The young striker made his debut as a 16-year old three years ago and since then, he has become an integral part of the Al-Gharafa side that is aiming to lift the AFC title for the first time in its history. His impressive performances in the 2009 AFC Champions
League earned him a lot of praise as he made his first start in the Champions League in the final group game against Middle Eastern giants Al Ahli. Blessed with great pace, the 19-year old striker can cause his opponents a lot of problems and this year might
be his breakthrough year.
Club: Zobahan (Iran)
Last season, Zobahan made it to the final of the AFC Champions League and Mahini’s performances at the left-back position alerted many scouts in Asia and Europe. Although he is still used frequently, an international call-up for Iran is just round the corner
if he keeps on performing as brilliantly as he did last season. Apart from being a good defender, he is energetic and his attacking ability down the left-flank is something Zobahan benefited from all season.
Club: Melbourne Victory (Australia)
The young striker joined Melbourne Victory from Brisbane Roar in 2009 and since then, the 22-year old striker has become one of the best upcoming youngsters in the A-League. He was one of the most prolific strikers in Australia last season and averaged almost
a goal every game. The pacy striker’s form didn’t go unnoticed and Australian manager Holger Osieck included him in the squad that played in the Asian Cup in Qatar this January. His big moment came when he scored a goal in the 6-0 rout of Uzbekistan in the
semifinal. Although Australia lost the final to Japan, Kruse had done enough to make a lasting impression on the rest of the world and it seems that if he has a good outing at the Champions League this season, a big money move to Europe is not an indistinct
Club: Gamba Osaka (Japan)
Takashi Usami is Japan’s latest teenage sensation and is a product of Gamba Osaka’s excellent youth system that has also produced Japanese international Yasuhito Endo. The youngster has already alerted top clubs in Europe and it is only a matter of time
that the teenager would be playing in Europe in a few years’ time. The exciting midfielder was the Best Young Player in Japan last year and his performances would definitely be noted a lot during the Asian Champions League.
Club: Sydney FC (Australia)
Kofi Danning was born in Ghana and at the age of 7, he moved to Australia where he was scouted by Sydney FC after Steve O’Connor nurtured his talent at the Australian Institute of Sport. The youngster was an integral part of the Sydney FC side that won the
National Youth League in the 2008/09 season and at the age of 16; he made his first team debut. Since then, the youngster hasn’t looked back and although he is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, he is definitely one
for the future and everyone will have a glimpse of his undoubted talent in the Champions League.