Ulaanbaatar: Mongolia will face their toughest challenge yet following the result of the Asian Qualifiers draw for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 but the Blue Wolves are determined to continue charting history.
Head coach Michael Weiss’ side will be making their first-ever appearance in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers with Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Myanmar to contend with in Group F.
Despite being in unfamiliar territory, Weiss is relishing the prospect of meeting heavyweights such as four-time AFC Asian Cup champions Japan.
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“To play a big team like Japan will be very meaningful for Mongolia,” said Weiss. “Football is not a very big thing in Mongolia though there is interest and it is becoming more fashionable.
“Such a game will help promote the sport in a country without genuine professional clubs. More interest and then sponsors come on board, then there is progress.”
Mongolia, ranked 187th in the world, edged past Brunei in the first round after captain Norjmoo Tsedenbal’s penalty gave the East Asians a 3-2 aggregate win.
Weiss said Mongolia must target good results in their qualifying matches, with their campaign kicking off with a home game against Myanmar on September 5.
Only the eight group winners and four best second-place teams progress to the next stage where Asia’s four automatic FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 spots will be up for grabs.
“We know that we are not going to be one of the 12 teams that go to the next stage but this is the start of a process for us,” Weiss said. “We have put the train on the tracks and now we can start moving forward.”
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