Hungary set modest aim

Zoltan Gera (Supplied)
Zoltan Gera (Supplied)

Cape Town - Hungary was once one of world football's giants, but those days are long gone.

Next year in France, Hungary will be at its first major tournament for 30 years and its first European Championship since 1972.

In that 1972 tournament, Hungary played in the semifinals - still the most recent taste of success for a nation which once contested a World Cup final.

The current team bears little similarity with the "Magic Magyars" of old. Whereas once the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Nandor Hidegkuti dazzled the crowd, Hungary's current squad can boast just four players who play their club football in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Qualifying was a struggle, beating Norway 3-1 on aggregate in the playoff round after coming third behind Northern Ireland and Romania in what many considered one of the easier groups.

Few of Hungary's players have much experience of competitions like the Champions League, meaning that they could rely heavily on experience from veterans like former English Premier League player Zoltan Gera.

Here is a look at Hungary's top three players and its coach, Bernd Storck:

ZOLTAN GERA

Aged 36, the veteran midfielder has been there for some of Hungary's lowest moments, including the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, when it finished sixth in its group behind Moldova. A cult hero at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, Gera now plays in the Hungarian league and will want to end his international career on a high.

BALASZ DSZUDSZAK

A winger who has attracted high transfer fees but struggled to live up to the hype that followed, Dzsudszak is the team captain. He was considered one of Europe's brightest young talents during a spell with PSV Eindhoven five years ago, but has a lot to prove in France.

KRISZTIAN NEMETH

Few U.S-based players are likely to feature at the European Championship, but Nemeth is one of them. The Sporting Kansas City striker won Major League Soccer's goal of the year award earlier this month after dancing through the Portland Timbers defense. Hungary would like to see more of the same.

COACH: BERND STORCK

Hungary went through three coaches during qualifying but eventually settled on German Storck, who is only the third foreign coach in the national team's 113-year history. A respected youth coach, Storck's only previous appointments as a senior head coach were with Kazakhstan and now-defunct Kazakh club FC Almaty.

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