Mongolia Keeper Records 11 Saves Against Japan, Still Loses 14-0
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Waking up and looking at Tuesday’s schedule of international football, I couldn’t help but notice the final score of one match that had already finished out in Chiba, Japan. The Japan national team had put up two touchdowns — a fortnight of scoring — on Mongolia in World Cup qualifying.
The 14-0 win isn’t the biggest in Japan’s history (15-0 over the Philippines in 1967), nor was it the biggest defeat in 190th-ranked Mongolia’s (15-0 to Uzbekistan in 1998).
And there’s only one reason those records weren’t broken. It might sound strange, but Mongolia keeper Mönkh-Erdene Enkhtaivan played pretty damn well.
After watching the match highlights, I was shocked by just how many more Japan could’ve scored. Yuya Osako had a hat-trick; Sho Inagaki, Junya Ito and Kyogo Furuhashi all got braces; Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada, Hidemasa Morita, Takuma Asano and even Mongolia midfielder Khash-Erdene Tuyaa (own goal) all managed to get one from the 34 shots they attempted.
Of those 34, 25 landed on target, meaning that Enkhtaivan made 11 saves on the day. Going the other way, Mongolia failed to land a shot on target. The pressure was endless but Enkhtaivan made a number of incredible saves to keep it at 5-0 at halftime. Things didn’t really fall apart until around the 70-minute mark, when the Samurai Blue scored eight goals with the remaining time.
“Rather than focusing on their opponents, our players concentrated on what they wanted to achieve for themselves,” said Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu. “I was able to try some different formations and expand our options.”
Japan’s qualifying schedule had been put on hold since November 2019 because of the pandemic, but the nation is now looking forward to the third round of qualifying having won all five of its second round matches so far with a total of 27 goals scored and zero conceded.
Mongolia is eliminated from World Cup contention with six defeats from seven matches and a goal difference of negative 25.