Having twice qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Uzbekistan have built up their youth program further to reach the FIFA U-17 World Cup. This marked a ground-breaking achievement for the Central Asians, who finished runners-up at the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship to book their place at the global showpiece for a first time. The strongest of the four former Soviet republics in Asia, the Uzbeks are determined to showcase their development in front of the watching world in Mexico.
Previous editions of the Asian qualifying tournament left Uzbekistan with little joy. Following their failed campaign in 2002, they disappointed again two years when they lost their crucial quarter-final clash to Korea Republic 3-0 to bow out on home soil. This time, in 2010, they hosted the tournament for the second consecutive time. Coach Aleksey Evstafeev’s young charges opened brightly with a 3-0 victory over Indonesia. After a goalless draw with Jordan, they thrashed Tajikistan by 8-1 to reach the last eight, where they overcame Syria 2-1 to book qualification for their first FIFA U-17 finals. They went on to scrape past Australia by the identical scoreline in the semi-finals only to lose out in the final to Korea DPR 2-0.
A host of fresh talent was unearthed as Uzbekistan impressed throughout qualifying. Claiming the most attention were striking duo Timur Khakimov and skipper Abbosbek Makhstaliev, with the former winning the tournament best player award with five goals while the latter excelled in the semi-finals, scoring twice. Defense, however, is the area where they will need to improve if they are to compete against the world's best, a point borne out when they conceded two unanswered goals to nine-man North Korea in the final. "I am glad that our team have done our country proud," said Aleksey Evstafeev. "The boys played well and I hope they can graduate into our senior national team in the future."