Mongolia v Myanmar (2022 FIFA World Cup qualification)
The MFF Football Centre where the match happened
|Event||2022 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|Date||5 September 2019|
|Venue||MFF Football Centre, Ulaanbaatar|
|Referee||Rowan Arumughan (India)|
The Mongolia v Myanmar match was the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification encounter between Mongolia and Myanmar, occurred in 5 September 2019 in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
The match was won by Mongolia 1–0 at home, in what would be known as a shock defeat for the Southeast Asian side to the weaker Mongolian team.
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers
At the time of the draw, this was Mongolia's first-ever participation in the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualification. Meanwhile, Myanmar directly qualified to this stage, marking it the second times the country participated in this phase after the previous qualification attempt. Together with Myanmar and Mongolia were the Asian powerhouse Japan, and Central Asia's Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This gave Myanmar and Mongolia a tough test to prepare, where they would face each other in their first encounter as Japan rested in matchday one.
Into the host Mongolia, the country itself is not famed in football. Mongolia's main sports have long been dominated by wrestling, horse racing and archery, although attempt to professionalize the sport has been ongoing. Harsh climate, including cold and freezing winter, largely prevent football from ever achieving a greater status. English manager Paul Watson, who managed to set up a new Mongolian club back in 2014, stated clearly about these pressures and the fact that Mongolia's football has been largely indoor, and most Mongolian professional players are nearly 30. Thus, a possible defeat might not be a surprising outcome for Mongolia given its weak football status.
In comparison, the visitor, Myanmar, for once was Asian football powerhouse and is famed with its passionate football fans. Since 2010s, Myanmar's football started to reclaim its development and culminated with its success in the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship, where the U-19 side managed to reach the semi-finals to qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Myanmar's first ever FIFA competitive tournament. Though Myanmar was eliminated in the latter, a generation of new Myanmar talents emerged, most notably Aung Thu, who was recognized as the greatest football face of Myanmar, and its brave performance, holding all three opponents (United States, Ukraine and New Zealand) draw in entire of the first half, and previous qualification experiences, making Myanmar a more favorable option than Mongolia.
Even in term of managerial staff, Myanmar also edged Mongolia. The Mongolians were led by then-manager Michael Weiß, who, while did have experience with some of Europe's famous names like Real Madrid, Arsenal and Kaiserslautern, worked mostly in amateur coaching level. Myanmar was led by Montenegrin Miodrag Radulović, who guided Lebanon to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup for the first time ever.
In spite of all Myanmar's advantages, historical encounters between two nations saw Myanmar only edged Mongolia with just one win separating it. The two nations first met in the 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification, where Myanmar won 2–0. Their next encounters occurred in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, where Myanmar also overcame Mongolia 2–0 at home after an away 0–1 defeat to the Mongolians.
The match began with the open pressure, surprisingly, by the Mongolians at first, but Oyunbaataryn Mijiddorj delivered it outside the net for nothing. Then, the Burmese replied in 7' with a strike from Aung Thu, but it failed to beat Ariunbold Batsaikhan. Nanda Kyaw delivered a free kick in 14' but the Burmese strikers could not capitalize this. The Burmese demanded a penalty following an ambiguous handball of Enkhbileg Pürevdorj but it was rejected by the Indian referee Rowan Arumughan. A minute later, the Burmese had a chance to take the lead with Sithu Aung brilliantly broke through the Mongolian defense, but Aung Thu sent the ball wild in front of the empty Mongolian net. The Burmese had to pay a heavy price for this miss. From Mijiddorj's pass, Narmandakh Artag managed to hold the ball where he sent the ball to Dölgöön Amaraa, which Zaw Min Tun failed to cut off the pass, ultimately putting Zin Htet against Amaraa alone, Amaraa didn't waste it to enable the score to 1–0 in front of jubilant home fans in 17'. The Burmese sought to restore their parity but was met with strong Mongolian defense. Neither Aung Thu or Kyaw Ko Ko, two main strikers for Myanmar, could breakthrough as the Mongolians held on their lead to the end of the first half.
The second half witnessed the confusing Burmese side trying to keep the ball at the expense of the confident host. The Burmese side tried to overcome in 54' but Aung Thu's pass to Kyaw Ko Ko was stopped by Mongolian defenders, twice. The Mongolians almost had a chance to double their tally a minute later, but Soe Moe Kyaw prevented it from happening. The Mongolians then had a chance with a corner kick, but to no avail. In 65', however, all hope for Myanmar dented when an unnecessary, reckless challenge by Maung Maung Lwin left Gankhuyag Ser-Od-Yanjiv sprawled on the ground and the Indian handed the Myanmar midfielder his second booking of the game. Mg Mg Lwin was already booked a similar yellow card to himself in just two minutes earlier for an unnecessary foul with Mongolia's Davaajav Battör, thus got a red card. Undeterred by the red card, Aung Thu in 67' tried with a superb shot, but it couldn't hit the target. In 75', the Mongolians almost had a chance to double their tally, but in the final touch, Tögsbileg Batbold made it wild. The Burmese responded in 78' with a brilliant dribbling by Than Paing, but Mongolian defenders played bravely to hold the scoreline. In 87', Aung Thu did his best with a free kick, but Zaw Min Tun wasted the opportunity. In 90+1' of injury times, Mongolian defense had some errors, but Aung Thu missed the last touch due to the immediate rescue from Turbat Daginaa which caused an injury for him. Than Paing then had a chance in 90+4', but also failed to do so thanked for Batsaikhan's outstanding form, to help Mongolia achieving its first historic three points in their debut of the second round of a FIFA World Cup qualification.
Man of the Match:
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers
The match's outcome was so agonising that it was mentioned with criticism in Myanmar, where this loss meant Myanmar side had a harder time to prepare for their next encounter against Japan even when they played the game at home. Eventually, Japan cruised past Myanmar in Yangon 2–0, before Kyrgyzstan delivered the country's second biggest defeat, a 0–7 loss in Bishkek, equalled with the country's previous loss to Thailand, with the Burmese to suffer five goals in the first half. This agonising performance prompted the Myanmar Football Federation to sack Radulović and re-appointed Antoine Hey for the coaching position.
In Mongolia, the match was widely celebrated for a country where professional football is just slowly taking root, the country seized the top place after the matchday one following the shock home win. A strong sense of pride erupted among Mongolians following the victory as it was seen as a sign that Mongolia could compete in professional football just like any other countries. However, this would become Mongolia's only win in the qualification as for 2020, Mongolia went on to suffer a losing streak, home down to Tajikistan 0–1 and Kyrgyzstan 1–2, along with their away 0–6 thrashing to powerhouse Japan.
The two countries then later met in their returning fixture, where Myanmar, this time, emerged victoriously 1–0 against the hard-fought Mongolians in Mandalay. It was the last match of Mongolia's manager Michael Weiß, in which he would depart as the greatest football manager in Mongolian history.
- Mongolia–Myanmar relations
- 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)
- Mongolia national football team
- Myanmar national football team
- 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification
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