Tuesday, February 8, 2011

AFC Challenge Cup: Mongolia

We’re only a day away from the much-awaited AFC Challenge Cup game against Mongolia.  It’s pretty cool to see so much coverage for tomorrow’s match.  There’s even a live update on the on-location situation in Bacolod, a day prior to the match.  I don’t think local football ever got this much interest, let alone for a single game.  It’s almost as if I’m watching one of those major tournaments like Champion’s League or the World Cup.  J

Here’s the update on the Mongolian Blue Wolves:

They arrived last yesterday, February 7.  There isn’t much info on this squad technically (how they play as a team, their strategies and weaknesses) as they took a year off from international competitions.  Their last game was in 2009. 

What we do know is that they are ranked lower to our 152 Coca-cola / FIFA World ranking with 182.  The President of the Republic of Mongolia, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, recently met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter last January 26, 2011 to discuss football, the social role of the sport and pledging the government’s support to the its national association.

Their players are pretty young.  According to TJ Manotoc’s tweet, their star player is Tugsbayar Ganbaatar.

Tugsbayar Ganbaatar

Ganbaatar is the top goal-scorer of the Mongolian National Football team.  This 26-year old striker was part of the national squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Matches and has been with the squad since 2003.  He as played for the Mongolian Football Clubs Selenge Press Ulaanbaator, Khoromkhon and Erchim

They haven’t trained and practiced as much as the azkals due to their climate.  In fact, it is one of the challenges facing Mongolian football.  They have the lowest average temperature of any capital city in the world.  Their winters are long and cold while summers are short.  Their national team played four matches in Guangzhou, China to acclimatize to the Philippine weather.  They only get to test in the Panaad pitch today, before the match tomorrow.

Azkals’ German coach Hans Michael Weiss believes that Mongolia neither has the experience nor sufficient training for tomorrow’s game.  Given that and the Azkals’ home-court advantage, I still think it’s not wise to underestimate the Mongolian National Squad, you’ll never know what’ll happen.

Those of you who want to see the Mongolians in action (I guess this is from their old matches), here’s a site with a video of the Mongolian team.

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