Success-starved Hungary still a stern test

Aidan Fitzmaurice

THE FACT THAT Dublin's main shop for Hungarian products -- you know the place, sells sweets, groceries, newspapers, etc, from Hungary -- has closed down and the space is now occupied by an 'adult' shop maybe shows that Irish interest in things Magyar-related has waned.

So maybe the Hungarians can get us talking about them again if they put on a show against Ireland in Budapest tonight.

Hungary may be a fading power in terms of the European game -- it's been a long time since the team qualified for a major finals and the club game here is in a permanent state of decline -- but the current side has a nice shape about it and this Hungarian outfit, fresh from a morale-boosting win away to Euro 2012 finalists the Czech Republic over the weekend, will give Ireland a stern test.

Ireland quite rightly boast of their 13-game unbeaten run but this Hungarian side, managed by the 61-year-old Sandor Egervári, have gone on a nice run themselves, with just one defeat in the last 10 games and in the last two years they have lost just once, in a Euro qualifier at home to a Holland side that thrashed them 4-0.

In fact, after back-to-back defeats to the Dutch, Hungary went on a stunning run of six wins in seven games, beating sides like Sweden and Iceland.

And Trapattoni has been admiring the Hungarians. "I watched not only the last game (2-1 win in Prague) but also their last games in the qualifiers, against Sweden," the Ireland says.

"I know their players like Nemeth, Varga. But the Hungarian 'school' is very beautiful, they produce technical players. Players like Puskas and Hidegkuti were among the best and now it's the same with these players."

Their 'name' player is missing as West Brom man Zoltan Gera is injured, but there are still some tasty talents in the Hungarian side, as they showed with that 2-1 win in Prague, where Videoton youngster Adam Gyurcsó came off the bench to score a winner two minutes from time.

Defender Adam Pinter cut his teeth in the domestic league with MTK but he's been in Spain for two seasons, impressing for Real Zaragoza. Fellow defender Zsolt Laczko is also playing abroad, lining out for Sampdoria.

HUNGARY (probable): Adam Bogdan (Bolton), Roland Juhasz (Anderlecht), Vilmos Vanczak (FC Sion, Switzerland), Szolt Laczko (Sampdoria), Adam Pinter (Real Zaragoza); Zsolt Korcsmar (Brann), Balasz Dzsudzsák (Dinamo Moscow), Peter Szakály (Debecen), József Varga (Debrecen), Tamas Koltai (Gyor), Adam Szalai (Mainz).