- Justin Grimm
Club Spotlight: Khaan Khuns Crown Club
Khaan Khuns Crown Club made waves in the Mongolian 1st League this season, narrowly missing promotion to the Premier League. Although it may seem on the surface that this was the club's inaugural season, in actuality it was established in 2007. In fact, the club has competed in the Mongolian 1st League every year since its founding in 2015, albeit under a different name every season.
Let's learn the long and winding history of the club to this point.
The club was founded in 2007 as Black Morgan FC. From 2008 to 2012, it competed under the name King Foods FC. It was renamed again in 2013 to Mongolian Dream and remained such for two season. Name changes were typically prompted by changing sponsors. To this point, the club competed only in amateur leagues and other competitions.
In 2015 the club competed in the inaugural season of the Mongolian 1st League, the second tier of football in the country. However, prior to the season, the club changed its name again, this time to Khangarid City FC. Khangarid City achieved immediate success in the highest level of competition of their existence. The club earned second place that season, tied with Continental FC with 24 points but losing the tie-breaker of goal differential. Khangarid City's second place finish was enough to earn promotion to the Mongolian Premier League for the 2016 season. However, the players who worked so hard to gain promotion never got to relish playing for the club at the highest level.
The players celebrating their Silver Medal win in 2015
Prior to the 2016 Premier League season, Khangarid City FC sold its license to operate as a Premier League club to the IT Group for 15 million MNT. The group then established Ulaanbaatar City FC, a high-spending and ambitious club that has competed in the top flight ever since. At that time, the club known as Khangarid City FC disappeared.
Some fans might have expected that to be the end of the club's story, but in its typical fashion it was reformed the next season and competed in the 1st league once again as Beşiktaş. The name was taken as an homage to Turkish football powerhouse Beşiktaş JK. That season, the team finished in sixth place.
After just one season under the Beşiktaş moniker, the club took the name Khaan Kuhns Crown Club, the name by which it is known today. The name change was prompted by sponsorship by Khaan Kuhns, a major producer and distributor of food goods in Mongolia and surrounding nations.
The team almost achieved the same level of success that it experienced just two years earlier but once again tie-breakers played a part. Khaan Kuhns Crown Club finished in third place in 2017. Although it tied second-place Gepro FC with 37 points and had a better goal differential, Gepro had one more win to secure its place in the Premier League for 2018.
A training session at the National Sports Centre
Khaan Kuhns Crown Club, like the majority of high-level clubs in the country, hails from the capital of Ulaanbaatar and plays its home matches at the MFF Football Centre stadium. For training sessions, the team rents out a field at the National Sports Center for $50 per hour. One of the club's goals, like many other teams in Mongolia, is to one day have its own stadium and training facilities. Currently only four or five stadiums are used for the top two tiers of football with most teams sharing one single stadium.
Mr. Badamdorj is the current owner. The senior squad's current head coach is Batbold. Sod-ochir Badamdorj serves as the club's executive.
Forward Chinsanaa Jargalsaikhan was one of the interesting side stories to develop this season as the second-year player almost took home the league's Golden Boot award. However, like his club, the 23-year-old lost out by a tie-breaker to 19-year-old Arvis FC striker Erdene-Ochir Mungunbagana. Both players finished the season with 17 goals in 13 matches but the award went to Mungunbagana because none of his goals came from the penalty spot while one of Jargalsaikhan's did. Jargalsaikhan began playing football seriously when he joined the club only two years ago. However, he did not like playing the central defensive midfield position that he was given in 2016 and was switched to a forward for the first time in 2017.
The club's 2017 roster also featured Ankhbayar Batmunkh who was named the 1st League defender of the year and also has club experience playing in Austria.
Jargalsaikhan in 2017
The club does not spend to bring in big-name, proven players, instead opting to develop and nurture talent through its academies. Like its approach to building its roster, the club has fairly humble ambitions: to build its own stadium, get its players into the national team, and grow its fan base. However, with such a consistent record of success to this point, the club may very well surpass those ambitions in no time.