Egypt 2009 will be Hungary's fifth appearance at a FIFA U-20 World Cup. On the four previous occasions, however, in 1977 (Tunisia), 1979 (Japan), 1985 (former USSR) and 1997 (Malaysia), they were unable to make a name for themselves on the big stage, falling each time in the first round. Things could well be different in Egypt, though. Wilco van Buuren's youngsters are riding the crest of a wave after their impressive performance in last year's UEFA European U-19 Championship, and it would come as little surprise to see the east Europeans make significant progress in North Africa.
Hungary celebrated their first ever qualification for a Euro U-19 tournament by reaching the semi-finals, despite starting out as underdogs after being drawn against heavyweights Spain and Germany in their first round group.
A 1-0 defeat of Bulgaria in their opening game proved a a real confidence booster, with Hungary following that up with a victory by the same score over four-time European champions Spain. Despite losing 2-1 to Germany in their final group match they knew that they were already through to the semi-finals, qualifying for Egypt 2009 in the process. This would be as far as they would go at the European championship, however, as they failed to get the better of Italy and went down 1-0 after a hard-fought encounter.
Sandor Egervari succeeded Dutchman Wilco van Buuren in mid-August. He has earned a reputation for reviving the fortunes of struggling clubs and has won the Hungarian championship three times as a coach.
Captain Vlagyimir Koman played as an attacking midfielder at the European U-19 championship. Slotting in behind lone striker Krisztian Nemeth, he wreaked havoc in opposition defences, constantly switching flanks before bearing down on goal. His accurate passing was also a feature, as it is for Italian Serie B club Avellino. Nemeth meanwhile is a bustling centre forward with a surprisingly good touch which he is currently honing with English Premier League title aspirants Liverpool. He managed an impressive six-goal haul during the 2007/08 European championship campaign.
- Four FIFA U-20 World Cup participations
- Semi-finalists at the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2008
- Three UEFA European U-19 Championship final phase participations
What they said...
"We're delighted with what we've done; our achievements are incredible. This was a real success for Hungarian football, but now we want to make our fans ever happier - that's our main aim." Peter Gulacsi, Hungary goalkeeper