Who is Baljinnyam Batbold?
Although a relatively unknown name before, Baljinnyam Batbold has quickly become a household name in Mongolian football after winning the Golden Boot award in Mongolia's historic EAFF Championship Round 1 run which concluded yesterday.
Batbold was born on 8 November 1999 in the Darvi, Govi-Altai in western Mongolia.
He was discovered by Mongolian Premier League club Khoromkhon FC at the young age of 12 in 2011. He remained with the club for seven seasons. Over that time, Batbold won a long list of accolades including: the bronze medal of the National League; two bronze medals in the Pepsi Futsal League; two championships and three bronze medals at the State Championships; the Ider League Championship and two Bronze medals; one gold medal and one bronze medal in the League Cup; and three silver medals in the Deren Cup.
Batbold's accomplishments did not go unnoticed as the player was signed to a 3-year contract by FC Ulaanbaatar after Khoromkhon was relegated to the First League following the 2017 season.
The player's attacking exploits were also noticed by Mongolia's senior and under-23 national team coach Michael Weiss with the manager handing the player his senior international debut in a friendly against Malaysia on 22 March 2018 at the age of 19.
His performances impressed enough to earn a spot on Mongolia's roster for the 1st Preliminary Round of the 2018 EAFF Championship. He quickly made his presence known, coming on as a late substitute in the team's opening match against Macau. The player scored the third goal of the 4-1 victory, his first senior international goal, three minutes after taking the field.
He started and played every minute of the team's next match against the Northern Mariana Islands. He contributed two more goals in the 9-0 victory as Mongolia beat its previous best scoreline of 8-0 which the team set against the same opponent in 2016.
Those three goals tied Batbold with teammate Gankhuyag Ser-Od-Yanjiv for the round lead but the FC Ulaanbaatar player was given the award off of the total points tie-breaker.
After only five matches, Batbold already has three international goals to his name, placing the midfielder tied for sixth place on the Blue Wolves' all-time score chart and only five behind Donorovyn Lümbengarav for the team record.
Whether or not Batbold breaks the Mongolian legend's record remains to be seen but one thing is certain, he is one of the many bright young and upcoming players taking Mongolia to the next level of international football.