World cup roundup: Hungary revival faces stern Dutch test
HUNGARIANS may find out whether their team’s recent improvement is a sign of a genuine revival or a false dawn when they face the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier tonight.
Hungary’s current team are a long way from the Mighty Magyars, who revolutionised football in the early 1950s, but they are regarded as a vast improvement on some of the country’s recent offerings. Their third place at the world under-20 championship in Egypt three years ago suggested that a bumper crop of young talent was on the way.
Recent performances at senior level, led by players such as winger Balazs Dzsudzsak and forward Adam Szalai, have also shown signs of promise.
They managed a respectable six wins in ten games as they finished third in their Euro 2012 qualifying group, which also featured Sweden and Netherlands.
A win over the Dutch would be a sign that things are getting better and would give Hungary a chance of challenging for at least second place in the group.
Both teams won their opening games in Group D, which also sees two other games this evening, with Turkey and Estonia, who both lost their first matches, facing each other in Istanbul and Romania hosting Andorra in Bucharest.
Austria, who, like Hungary, are also aiming to end a long spell in the wilderness, also have a home game against Germany – to whom they have lost seven games in a row – which could be pivotal for their hopes of qualifying for Brazil in 2014.
Austria, who last qualified in 1998, are full of optimism as they open their campaign at home to their biggest rivals, who started with a predictably straightforward 3-0 win over Faroe Islands in Group C.
Sweden should have a gentle introduction as they make their debut in the group at home to Kazakhstan.
Spain begin their title defence with a long trip to Georgia while France host Belarus in Group I, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal entertain Azerbaijan in Group F.
Italy, who drew 2-2 in Bulgaria on Friday, should have little trouble at home to Malta in Group B.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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