Uzbek football has been on the rise. From deep qualification runs for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups; at least quarter-finals appearances in every AFC Cup since 2004; and players representing an ever-increasing number of clubs around the globe, the nation has found a formula that works.
Mongolia's footballing relationship with its neighbor has been less pleasant.
It was Uzbekistan that handed Mongolia a 0-15 defeat in Mongolia's second-ever match after becoming a FIFA member in 1998. That result still stands as Mongolia's largest-ever margin of defeat nearly twenty years later. Two years after that defeat, Uzbekistan thrashed Mongolia 8-1 in the latter's first official friendly.
However, happier times (at least in the eyes of Mongolians) may be on the horizon as the Uzbekistan Football Federation has reached out to the MFF in hopes of forming a partnership that would benefit both federations. The partnership would see the best Mongolian players sign for clubs in the Uzbek League; make Uzbek players available to Mongolian clubs; and the formation of a football academy in Mongolia.
Currently there are three players that have attracted the most interest from the UFF: Erchim FC's Mönkh-Erdengiin Tögöldör and Tögöldur Galt and FC Ulaanbaatar's Oyuunbatyn Bayarjargal.
Mönkh-Erdengiin Tögöldör has scored five senior international goals for the Blue Wolves in only 12 appearances. He also made a strong showing during the recently-concluded 2017 Aceh World Solidarity Tsunami Cup and the warm-up matches leading up to the competition. Tögöldur Galt, despite being only 22 years old, also possesses a wealth of international experience. Both players have also featured in the AFC Cup during their time with Erchim FC during its current run of three consecutive league championships.
The players are currently preparing highlight videos to submit to the Uzbekistan Football Federation as part of the ongoing process.
If the partnership is finalized to any extent, it will not be the first time that the Mongolian Football Federation has partnered with another federation for mutual benefit. In 2014 the MFF partnered with the Hungarian Football Federation. As part of the agreement, several Mongolians have entered the Puskás Akadémia FC each year, most notably Ganbold Ganbayar who has been on an extended stay with the academy and made historic appearances in the 2017 Puskás Cup.
More details will be provided as the story developes.