Euro 2016: Lack of firepower may prove Hungary’s undoing
Victory in playoff against Norway secures Hungary’s first appearance at Euros for 44 years
Given their wonderful history and long time away from the game’s biggest stages, quite a few neutrals will have been rooting for Hungary as they faced Norway in the play-offs. They won both legs and progressed with surprising ease having been regarded as a potentially soft touch amongst the top seeds. That said, they will do well now to extend their stay. Their German coach, Bernd Storck, has a limited enough pool of talent to work with and veterans like goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly (once of Crystal Palace) who will, at 40 (he is 19 days older than Shay Given), become the tournament’s oldest ever player assuming he features, which he almost certainly will, and Zoltan Gera (a comparatively sprightly 37) still play an important role. Werder Bremen’s 22 year-old attacking midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler looked good in qualifying while Daniel Bode generally gets sprung from the bench when a goal is needed. In short, though, they are no Mighty Magyars and the best thing that can be said for them is that their group is not the most daunting and one win could well be enough to get them through.
How they qualified
Goals proved to be somewhat of a problem for Hungary during qualifying as they only managed two or more just twice. One of those occasions was a final day 4-3 defeat to a dismal Greece side, meaning the Hungarians had to come through a play-off against Norway to reach the finals. That play-off was lit up by Tamas Priskin’s sensational goal in the 2-1 home leg win before a 1-0 win in Oslo booked their place in France.
Manager: Bernd Storck
When Pal Derdai quit his role with just four qualifying games to go to concentrate on managing Hertha Berlin, Storck was promoted from under-20s manager to the senior post. The 53-year-old was originally appointed by the Hungarian FA in 2013 with a view to overhauling their coaching structures and qualifying for Euro 2020. After studying German player development models and writing ‘The Decade of Revival’ he was trusted with the post as senior team manager and immediately became a success by securing Hungary’s place in the European Championships for the first time in 44 years.
Star man: Balazs Dzsudzsak
The Hungary captain lit up the Dutch Eridivisie during his three seasons with PSV when he scored 44 goals in 114 appearances and led the assists chart. After a short spell at the briefly wealthy Anzhi Makhachkala he joined Dynamo Moscow before switching to Bursaspor last summer. Dzsudzsak is the key playmaker for Hungary, working out wide and providing the assists for striker Tamas Priskin.
One to watch: Gabor Kiraly
Yes, that Gabor Kiraly. The tracksuit-bottom wearing former Crystal Palace goalkeeper is still the number one for Hungary despite having now reached the age of 40. He also still plays regularly as the first choice goalkeeper for hometown club Szombathelyi Haladás. In France this summer he will surpass Lothar Matthaus as the oldest player ever to play at a European Championships.
Defenders: Barnabas Bese (MTK), Attila Fiola (Puskas Akademia), Richard Guzmics (Wisla Krakow), Roland Juhasz (Videoton), Tamas Kadar (Lech Poznan), Mihaly Korhut (Debrecen), Adam Lang (Videoton), Adam Pinter (Ferencvaros).
Forwards: Daniel Bode (Ferencvaros), Zoltan Gera (Ferencvaros), Gergo Lovrensics (Lech Poznan), Krisztian Nemeth (al-Gharafa), Nemanja Nikolic (Legia Warsaw), Tamas Priskin (Slovan Bratislava), Adám Szalai (Hannover).
What President Trump says...
“Somebody told me the Hungarian Prime Minister thinks he’s Trump. I gotta tell you, it will take more than kicking the Muslims out to be Trump. Has he a hot wife? No? Then he’s no Trump!”