Football in Mongolia, On the huge plateau of Mongolia, Naadam has long been the most popular sporting event. The competition takes place every July in the Ulaanbaatar National Stadium and features wrestling, archery, and horse racing – all of which embody the nation’s nomadic traditions.
Football In Mongolia
Since Naadam is still the most famous festival in the country, an up-and-coming sport has become very noticeable in recent years: football. National team and club games have made headlines throughout the season, and games have even been played in Naadam.
The nation’s passion for football reached a fever last year thanks to Mongolia’s impressive performance in the Asian preliminaries for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Blue Wolves under German coach Michael Weiss passed Brunei 3-2 over two legs and reached the next stage for the first time. Norjmoogiin Tsedenbal scored a goal in both legs. Mongolia also had the honor of hosting the first global qualifier on its way to Qatar in 2022.
Football has a relatively short history in Mongolia. The first national team was founded in 1956. The Mongolia Football Federation (MFF) was founded three years later, but the country has remained inactive internationally for decades.
Things started to change in 1998 when the MFF became part of FIFA and AFC. With the support of the global football association through FIFA Forward and other projects, the football infrastructure has been improved by building new training centers and playing fields. Development programs, both of the national teams and the base, were implemented, while a semi-pro league with ten teams was launched in 2016.
Since their first World Cup qualification attempt for Korea / Japan in 2002, consistent progress has been made. They recorded their first three points with a 0-1 loss to Myanmar on the way to Brazil in 2014, although they were lost 0-2 on return and just crashed out. And after the historic ascent to the second round of qualifying for Qatar in 2022, they opened with another win over Myanmar.
Weather Conditions In Mongolia
Mongolia may be known as the “land of the eternal blue sky” due to its 250 days of sunshine a year, but it has notoriously cold winters, with Ulaanbaatar holding the record as the coldest capital in the world. While the disheartening weather conditions make the 11v11 game difficult, it gives locals a rare opportunity to develop their indoor game – futsal.
“The cold weather typically lasts five to six months and we need to be adaptable to develop the game,” an MFF official told FIFA.com. “We opt for the five-on-five game. There is no way to play outside when the temperatures are only 40 degrees Celsius, so training and indoor play can help us to be successful in futsal.”
Still, there are times when locals warm up by drinking tea and drinking kumis in Mongolian yurts, with players competing against each other in snowy conditions. Such “white games” attracted a lot of attention during the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship qualification campaign. The entire group campaign took place in Ulaanbaatar in early November 2017 when an unexpected snowstorm saw the snow-covered capital.
“The field was snow white and it was difficult to identify the ball,” continued the referee. “Our solution was to mark the ball with black paint so that it was visible on the white background.”