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European Championship

Euro 2016 Team Guide: Hungary ready to recapture glory days

23:55 SAST 2016/06/04
Storck - Cropped
Led by German coach Bernd Storck, the once great powerhouse are looking to make their mark on world football once again in their first Euros since 1972

Coach: Bernd Storck

Key player: Balazs Dzsudzsak

Qualifying form: W4, L2, D4

Top scorers in qualifying: Krisztian Nemeth, Daniel Bode, Tamas Priskin (all 2)

Not since 1972 - when just four teams made the finals - have Hungary reached a European Championship, but the former powerhouse will be looking to make their mark on Euro 2016 after qualifying via the play-offs.

Once a giant of the global game, Hungary reached the final of the World Cup in both 1938 and 1954. The latter side were nicknamed the 'Magical Magyars', led by the great Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis. However, recent times have been more barren for the nation. 

German coach Bernd Storck has overseen something of a renaissance in 2015-16, though, including a run of just one defeat in 10 games, capped off by defeating Norway across both legs of their play-off.

Storck’s squad is made up mostly of unheralded players from Europe's lower-profile leagues, though some boast considerable previous experience.

Former West Brom favourite Zoltan Gera enjoyed a solid Premier League career before returning to his homeland with Ferencvaros and remains a key player in the national set-up, even at 37.

Goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, once of Crystal Palace, has over 100 caps to his name.

Winger and captain Balazs Dzsudzsak is fresh off a strong season in the Turkish top flight with Bursaspor, although he has been nursing injury in the build-up to the finals, while Adam Szalai has impressed in flashes during a loan spell at Hannover.

Otherwise, Storck is short of players playing regular football in the so-called big leagues.

That said, his squad has plenty of quality and a strong work ethic, both of which were in evidence as they edged past Norway 3-1 on aggregate to book their ticket to France.

They won four of their 10 games in regular qualifying, losing just twice, although goals look to be their biggest weakness, with nobody scoring more than twice. 

Though they are not predicted to oust any of the favourites come the showpiece, they could still very well find themselves in the knockout rounds after being drawn in a favourable Group F.

Portugal will clearly be expected to top that pool, but Hungary will also take on Iceland and Austria in the hope of securing second place, or finishing as one of the four best third-ranked teams.

Such a result would mark a memorable achievement for a country that has not even qualified for a major international tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and Stork insists they will not simply be there to make up the numbers.

"I'm thankful for the confidence of the Hungarian Football Federation and president Sandor Csanyi, who helped develop Hungarian football," he said after achieving qualification. 

"Having come back down to earth we are now celebrating. We'll see how to proceed but we are well prepared for the tournament."