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  • Justin Grimm

From Rising to Risen: Erdene-Ochir Mungunbagana is a Star

Image property of Anduud City FC

Mongolian Football Central once called Erdene-Ochir Mungunbagana "Mongolia's Next Star Striker." Eighteen months later, he is no longer a rising star; he has already risen. In part two of MFC's exclusive series about the player, we look at his journey to his new club Anduud City and his prospects for the future.

Over his nine-year career at Arvis FC, Mungunbagana won just about every award imaginable. In addition to his successes on the field, including winning the 1st League Golden Boot Award in 2017 with 17 goals in 13 matches, the player also became a success in the classroom as he began his studies at Irkutsk State University in Siberia, Russia. There he also plays for the university football team, an experience that he loves.

Because of his and his teammates' success in the 1st League in 2017, Arvis FC was promoted to the Mongolian Premier League for the first time ever in 2018. However, the team could not adapt to the higher level of play quickly enough and was relegated after a single season after recording only two wins in 18 matches, finishing in 9th place.

Despite a less-than-memorable season for the club, there were some individual bright spots, including Mungunbagana. The player scored five goals in only seven matches as he continued to balance his club and school commitments. In addition to his high ratio of goals scored to games played, the statistic becomes even more impressive when you consider that the whole Arvis team combined for only 24 goals for the season.

During the league offseason, the Mongolian youth teams once against competed in AFC competition but Mungunbagana was not on the roster, likely because of his school commitments, the same reason that he missed out on participating with other national teams in the past.

Following the disappointing season, life went on as usual for Mungunbagana. He returned to Russia for his education and continued to play on his other football and futsal teams. However, everything was not business as usual at Arvis.

When the 1st League table was revealed only a few days ago, fans may have noticed that Arvis FC was conspicuously absent from the lineup without explanation. The club fell from the Premier League to out of the national professional league system in only one year.

This situation left some players without a club and many others were probably wondering what their football futures held for them. Luckily for Mungunbagana, his future had already been secured.

On 25 March 2019, up-an-coming MPL club and last year's bronze medalists Anduud City FC announced that it had reached transfer deal with Arvis FC for the player.

Anduud City, with the deep financial backing of the Mazala company and now Chinggis Beer, has demonstrated its commitment to setting European-like standards for the club. They showed their intentions again during the offseason by signing long-time Deren FC manager Vojislav Bralušić to lead the team for the next three seasons.

Image property of Anduud City FC

It has not taken long for Mungunbagana to prove himself to his new club. On 20 April 2019 in Anduud's second match of the season, he scored two goals in the final eight minutes of the match for the come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Khoromkhon FC.

After only two matches, Mungunbagana has scored two goals, two more than last year's Silver Boot winner and now teammate Batbayar Khash-Erdene. Regardless of who ends the season with more goals, the attacking duo is sure to terrorize the opposing defenses as Anduud make a push for the league title and AFC Cup qualification.

In addition to his club exploits, one would imagine that Mungunbagana will be on the national team's radar again with crucial World Cup qualification matches coming up in June. If the player returns to national team picture after several years out, fans can only dream of how he would fit into the lineup with stars like Naranbold, Munkh-Erdene, and another hopeful debutante Ganbold Ganbayar.

Although Mungunbagana has already proven he is a star, he is surely not finished rising.


To read Part 1 of the series visit:

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