- Mongolia resume qualifying for Qatar 2022 under new coach Rastislav Bôžik
- Former Al Wahda coach took the reins in September
- He hopes for the best from his team against Tajikistan and Japan
At the start of the Asian qualifier for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ™ in June 2019, Mongolia had the honor of hosting the first-ever qualifying match against Brunei. The Blue wolves recorded the first qualifying victory by winning 2-0 before losing 1-2 away, which allowed them to advance to the next round with an aggregate score (3-2).
Twenty-one months later, Asians are once again the first to return to the lawns. The team now led by Rastislav Bôžik travels to Tajikistan on March 25 before facing Group F leaders Japan five days later. After a year-long hiatus from COVID-19, Mongols are eager to get back in the water. “The whole world has gone through difficult times,” the 43-year-old Slovakian told FIFA.com. “A short championship, a very long winter and all kinds of difficulties were caused by the pandemic, which made it difficult for us to prepare. But we faced them and the worst is behind us. Today our team is impatient and we let’s work hard to get the players back on their feet. “
Bôžik knows Asia well, he who, in his 18-year coaching career, has taken the reins of clubs like Son Dong Tam Long An and Al Wahda, in addition to being assistant coach of Malaysia. Last September, he was appointed coach of a national team for the first time. “It’s an honor to coach a national team, especially Mongolia,” he said. “I was responsible for youth and coaching education at MFF (Mongolian Football Federation). Today I am responsible for selecting players and developing a suitable strategy for the A team. happy with the confidence shown in me. “
Having never made it past the first round of the Asian World Cup qualifying before, Mongolia made history on the road to Qatar 2022 by qualifying for the second round. “This historic victory sent a strong signal that the country needed,” Bôžik continues of the first round. “The team won the hearts of the Mongolian people and it also works the other way around: the support of the supporters motivated the players.”
Tsedenbal Norjmoo, the 32-year-old captain, found the net twice while Nyam-Osor Naranbold, the 29-year-old striker, also hit the mark to take out Brunei. The fairy tale didn’t end there as in their very first game of the second round, they won 1-0 at home against Myanmar. This time, it was 20-year-old Dolgoon Amaraa who deceived the vigilance of the opposing goalkeeper. “These three players will continue to play a central role in this team,” confirms the manager. “They represent three generations of the team. We have the elders who bring their experience while the young bring their passion.”
Services before results
Now red lantern of the group with only one victory in five days, Mongolia would desperately like to get another success. The Mongols lost 1-0 to third-placed Tajikistan in September 2019, before conceding six goals without scoring against the undisputed leader Japan a month later. “It goes without saying that these matches represent great challenges for us. We are playing against strong opponents away from home,” Bôžik admits. “We will focus on our performance rather than the results. Good results will come as long as we work carefully, especially on individualities, tactical training and the collective. That is our philosophy.”
“Mongolian players learn quickly when they are motivated. They are a disciplined team with a good frame of mind. They can beat the statistics and do great things,” concluded an optimistic Bôžik.