Image property of Richmond Hill Soccer Club
When Mongolia's roster for 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship qualification was released recently, even the most knowledgeable fans of Mongolian football were probably surprised to see an unfamiliar name, Sanchir Anand, among the crop of mostly established regulars. They were probably even more surprised to see his club location listed as "Canada" since Mongolia has always had a notorious dearth of players in foreign leagues. So who is this new mystery man to whom head coach Michael Weiss has handed over the coveted #1? There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the player, but here is what we know:
Anand, the 5'9", 145-lber, was born in 2002, so he is either only 17 or 18 years old depending on his exact birthday, making him young for even this youth side. For the past several years he has plied his trade at the Richmond Hill Soccer Club which is located in the York, Ontario region outside of Toronto, Canada. The club competes in the Ontario Player Development League, a premier youth league which is fully associated with the Canadian Soccer Association and heavily funded by Major League Soccer club Toronto FC. He was most recently part of the club's under-17 team and recorded two clean sheets last season.
Richmond Hill, with Anand in goal, were runners up in the league championship, the OPDL Charity Cup, in 2017, falling to a Toronto FC youth side 0-5. Anand made a number of saves in the first half to keep the score level at 0-0 at the break.
The player has also experienced success with Richmond Hill's futsal side, winning the 2016 Toronto Futsal League Division 2 championship for their age group. Because of his performances in the regular season and championship match, Anand was awarded the league's Goalkeeper of the Year distinction.
Image property of Mongolian Football Federation
In December 2019 Anand was a member of the Richmond Hill Raiders team which competed at the College Showcase in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. The showcase was hosted by North Carolina FC, a club in the USL Championship, the second division of American soccer, and was organized to help college soccer teams identify and recruit talent. The team topped Group A after finishing the group stage with three wins out of three.
Aside from an impressive youth club resume by Mongolian standards, Anand also becomes the first Mongolian player to switch allegiance to Mongolia after previously representing another nation...well, kind of. In December 2016 Anand was one of 40 players to represent Canada at the under-14 national futsal level for two friendly matches against the United States. Canada split the matches with one victory and one defeat.
The York, Ontario region is home to a club in the nascent Canadian Premier League, York 9 FC, which begins play next month, in addition to super-club Toronto FC of Major League soccer and professional clubs in other lower divisions. With CPL clubs snatching up the best local talent to fill out their rosters, could we see another Mongolian playing professionally abroad soon? If Ganbold Ganbayar does not make his 1st team breakthrough soon, will Anand swoop in and take the long-expected distinction of first professional Mongolian to play in a top flight outside of Mongolia?
There is still much to learn about Sanchir Anand. Where was he born? What other clubs has he played for? What will be his next move? College soccer in the U.S. or Canada or signing for a club? These are all questions to which we have no answers. But if team and fan expectations are any indication, we will know soon enough.
Updated: According to a statement from Deren FC yesterday, Sanchir Anand was a member of the club before moving to Canada with his parents to study. He returned to Mongolia and the club in November 2018 and took part in the annual Deren Cup. He was named Best Goalkeeper for the tournament on route to winning the championship.