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06.01.2016, 15:40
With Mikler in goal and Nagy in charge, Hungary aim high at the EHF EURO
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EHF EURO COUNTDOWN #8: Head coach Talant Dujshebaev has put together a squad for Poland that features the Hungarian heavyweights, but is also a sign of a generation change in the nation’s men’s team
 

With Mikler in goal and Nagy in charge, Hungary aim high at the EHF EURO

After having missed the World Championship 2015, Hungary are back on the international stage with a new-look, much younger team that has to cope with the enormous pressure of facing the last chance to seal a place at the qualification tournaments for the Olympic Games.

With the women’s national team failing to reach the qualification for Rio 2016, fears grow in Hungary that both could miss the Olympics which has not been the case since 1984.

However, head coach Talant Dujshebaev decided to push through a bit of a generation change, leaving out some established stars such as Szeged’s Ferenc Ilyes and Veszprem’s Mate Lekai and put his trust on youngsters with undoubted talents but limited international experience.

The team’s strengths

Hungary heavily rely on the quality of their defence, however, Dujshebaev will focus on attack just as much as on the notorius defensive with Laszlo Nagy and Timuzsin Schuch in the centre.

Defence nevertheless still remains the main priority and it is no secret that Hungary have the ability to go far if they can count on Roland Mikler in top shape in goal.

The Veszprém goalkeeper lost his previously unassailable place in the starting line-up but has started to show up at his best.

If Mikler delivers and the Hungarian wall will be as solid as ever, the opponents are in for a rough ride and if Hungary manage to keep the tempo of the game as low as possible, they can beat anybody.

The team’s weaknesses

Obviously the Hungarian team lack international experience, which could be a decisive factor in crunch situations.

This could affect what is hoped to be the team’s most important strength, its defensive stabilty, as Hungary may very well feel the absence of Szeged’s great defender, Ferenc Ilyes.

The Hungarian attacks are likely to be less influenced by the lack of experience, but there will be times when such a young team will be forced to find out, how different it is to fight against the best of the game than playing in the Hungarian league.

Talent is given and one of the most accomplished coaches will bring the best out of them, but there is not much to do against lack of experience: you need get it yourself.

The team’s star

Laszlo Nagy, the all-round leader and team captain, turns 35 in March, but his age is no concern for those who see the talismanic right back week by week.

His years only mean an enormous amount of experience as he is still one of the best defenders in the game and a real ’big game’ player, who always delivers when it matters.

At the EHF EURO Nagy will have the special task of translating Dujshebaev’s instructions to his teammates, but his presence in the court is even more important.

He is the player who can turn a game around by providing stability at both ends of the court.

The hidden gem

Bence Zdolik, the two-metre tall left back, is one of the highest rated youngsters of the Hungarian squad.

The Balatonfüred players just extended his contract with the club that he has been playing for since his youth.

Zdolik was only 21 when he scored six goals from six shots against Croatia and was player of the match when Hungary sent the visitors home with a 30:26 in the European Championship qualifiers in 2013.

The 23-year-old regularly features in the national team these days and he is widely considered to be the most promising left back of his generation – but he still has a lot to learn, in particular in defence.

The EHF EURO should be his tournament to prove his worth.

Outlook

As usual the ’Big Four’ (France, Croatia, Spain and Denmark) look fit to reach the semi-finals. For Hungary the main goal first of all is to make it to the main and to eventually secure one of the remaining spots in the Olympic qualification.

Everything else, like a spot in the semi-finals, would be considered a very welcome bonus for this young Hungarian team.


TEXT: Bence Martha / ts
 
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