N.Tsedenbal from the Mongolian National Football Team scored the first goal worldwide in the Qatar 2022 qualifying stage.
Had it not been for his football passion, N.Tsedenbal would probably have made a name for himself in another sport. Indeed, s a young boy, i N.Tsedenbal excelled in wrestling, archery and horse racing – all of which are Mongolia’s traditional sports. “Every Mongolian loves these sports,” the 31-year-old Mongolia captain told FIFA.com. “Mongolian kids grow up wrestling with each other and I was one of them.”
In fact, N.Tsedenbal was among the best in these sports, winning titles in both wrestling and horse racing at school. With football beginning to thrive in Mongolia, with the nation joining both FIFA and the AFC in 1998, Tsedenbal quickly became fond of the game.
Having shone in his high-school team, N.Tsedenbal earned his first national-team cap in the East Asia Football Federation (EAFF) Cup Preliminary Competition in 2009. And he has never looked back, racking up 30 international appearances and scoring seven goals. Now Tsedenbal has established himself among the country’s footballing icons – he is just a goal shy of Mongolia’s all-time international scoring record of veteran Lumbengarav Donorov. And all the more impressive is that three of his goals were scored in Mongolia’s history-making FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying campaign.
N.Tsedenbal ‘s achievements at club level are also impressive. He began his career with Ulaanbaataryn Unaganuud, winning the Mongolian Premier League title in 2009 as captain. After moving to Ulaanbaatar City, he went on to clinch the MFF Cup and Super Cup with the capital-based side, also as the skipper. Now plying his trade with 12-time national champions Khaan Khuns-Erchim, Tsedenbal has quickly fixed his sights on fresh goals.
“I will turn 32 years old [this September],” he said. “I want to help my side to the league title so we can represent our country in next year’s AFC Cup.”
With three games left in Mongolia’s World Cup qualifying, of course, he is hopeful of achieving new a breakthrough at international level. With the campaign doubling as qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, Tsedenbal is eyeing a place in the next round from a group which also features Japan, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan.
“We are on the bottom side with just three points, but I hope we can get more positive results so we can finish in fourth place [to advance to Asian Cup qualifying third round]. Big progress has been made in Mongolia football recently. When we were young, we could only play football on simple earth grounds, but today we have pitches of artificial turf. The Mongolia Football Federation has been doing a good job in promoting the game and today the game is becoming more popular. A promising, new generation is emerging and I believe one day football will reach the same status as the traditional Mongolian sports.” (source : FIFA)