National Team - Lions ● Oct 10, 2018
Opponent Spotlight: Mongolia
SINGAPORE, 10 OCT 2018 – Ahead of Singapore’s friendly against Mongolia this Friday, 12 October, we take a look at our opponents…
FIFA Ranking: 186
Confederation: AFC (Asia), EAFF (sub-confederation, East Asia)
Nickname: Blue Wolves
Head Coach: Michael Weiss
SPARSE Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia that borders China and Russia. It is the 18th largest country in the world and the most sparsely populated unitary sovereign state. The capital of Mongolia is its largest city Ulanbaatar.
The population of Mongolia is about 3 million people, of which 96 per cent are ethnic Mongols and the rest Kazakhs. The official language is Mongolian.
COPING WITH COLD Mongolia has extremely cold winters during November to March, where temperatures can drop to -30 °C. Because of this harsh climate, football could not be played outdoors during this period in the past.
Former national team player and coach Zorigtyn Battulga told AFC.com, “Lack of games is a problem. No one will come to Mongolia in December and for us to fly to other countries is very expensive, so it’s hard to arrange official matches.”
In 2002, the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) built facilities, including the MFF Football Centre, in order to develop the infrastructure to cope with the conditions and allow for more matches to be played in Mongolia.
Mongolia joined FIFA in 1998 and achieved its first-ever competitive victory in 2003 with a 2–0 win against Guam during the 2003 East Asian Football Championship (EAFF).
Mongolia’s highest FIFA ranking of 168 was achieved in 2011 and the lowest it reached was 201 in 2015. Today, it is positioned at 186.
The Mongolian football league, the Khurkhree National Premier League, consists of ten teams. Erchim FC have won the previous three championships and have won the most titles with ten.
The bottom two teams are relegated from the Premier League to the Khurkhree National 1st League.
GOOD FORM Mongolia come into this game in decent form, having only lost one game – a 2-0 loss to Mauritius – in 2018.
They are looking to qualify for the EAFF E-1 Football Championship for the first time in their history and have already made progress to qualify for the 2019 tournament edition by getting past the first preliminary round, during which they recorded their biggest ever win by beating Northern Mariana Islands 9-0.
This friendly against Singapore will be part of their preparations for the second preliminary round of qualifying. They will face the likes of Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong in November.
FAMILIAR OPPONENT Michael Weiss, 53, has been the man in charge of the Blue Wolves since January 2017. His first managerial experience was with the Rwanda Under-20s between 2007 and 2010, before he took the role of Philippines National Team head coach in 2011.
While he was head coach of the Azkals, he faced Singapore five times, winning twice and drawing once.
Two of these were the semi-final matches in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, where Singapore beat them 1-0 on aggregate en-route to winning their fourth title.
He then had a short three-month spell at Romanian side Oțelul Galați in 2014 before taking the Mongolian job.
PROMISING Mongolia are sending a young squad for the friendly match against Singapore, with the average age at 23.6 years.
One promising talent is 18-year old Batbold Baljinnyam. Having made his international debut earlier this year against Malaysia, the FC Ulaanbaatar striker has already racked up three international goals in just five appearances. He was the top scorer of the first preliminary round qualifying for the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship.
Gal-Erdene Soyol-Erdene is another player to look out for. The young forward, 22, plays for Erchim FC and was at English Conference side Barnet FC for a training stint in 2016.
A more experienced professional in the Mongolian squad list is forward Khurelbaataryn Tsend-Ayush, 26. The Athletic 220 striker is the fourth-highest goalscorer of all time for the National Team, having scored five goals in 11 international appearances.
Goalkeepers: Enkthaivan Munkh-Erdene, Saikhanchuluun Amarbayasgalan.
Defenders: Garidmagnai Bayasgalan, Norjmoogiin Tsedenbal, Daginaa Turbat, Orkhon Munkh-Orgil, Battur Davaajav.
Midfielders: Khurelbaataryn Tsend-Ayush, Artag Narmandakh, Usukhbayar, Serodyanjiv Ganhuyag, Janchiv Sundorj, Altansukh Temuujin, Batbildyn Tugsbileg, Gal-Erdene Soyol-Erdene, Batbold Baljinnyam, Tsagaantsooj Munkh-Erdene.
Forwards: Tumur-Ochir, Nyam-Osor Naranbold, Maratkhan Janseric, Purevdorj Enkhbileg, Khas-Erdene