Cyprus Cup: Strong opponents help Hungary develop
Edina Markó's Hungary Women have returned from the 2019 Cyprus Cup tournament having played four matches, two of which were against prospective rivals for World Cup qualification.
First up as an opponent were Thailand and although we created chances, they were weren't taken and our Asian counterparts capitalised, scoring four times without reply to prevail 4-0.
Hungary's next match against an elite team from our own European continent was even more of a challenge. Italy provided the next test and although we played well, we were taught another lesson in clinicism, this time losing 3-0 despite MTK's Barbara Tóth coming on forher international debut as an 80th-minute substitute.
Hungary's final group match was against Mexico, before which Zsófia Rácz was applauded on the occasion of her 100th international appearance. In a rollercoaster ninety minutes, Dóra Zeller put Hungary ahead but Mexico equalised almost immediately and then took a 2-1 lead. Zsanett Jakabfi restored parity and Loretta Németh's fine finish gave Markó's team what seemed to be a late winner, only for Mexico to find an added-time leveller to set the final score at 3-3.
Hungary's final match saw them take on neighbours Slovakia in an open and attacking game. Slovakia scored first but our girls put in everything in ursuit of victory and their hopes were boosted by Loretta Németh's equaliser before Anita Pinczi put Markós charges in a winning position. An unfortunate own-goal made the scores equal again but Zsanett Jakabfi's superb goal after regaining possession in midfield placed Hungary in a winning position which they would not relinquish, their joy increased even more by the fact that Evelin Fenyvesi was able to celebrate her 50th international cap after coming on as a substitute.
Edina Markó: We can only develop if we play these types of matches where we face opponents of a similar or higher level than we are. This tournament provided exactly this opportunity and although we had a couple of poor results, we also played very well in other matches, so I'm proud of the girls.
For the first time in the tournament's history, North Korea finished as champions after they beat Italy in the final.
Our women's national team will play Portugal away next in a friendly double-header on the Iberian peninsula on 6th and 9th April. Their next competitive match will also be away from home on 29th August in Iceland in a European Championship qualifier.
Hungary's goalscorers at the 2019 Cyprus Cup:
Dóra Zeller – Mexico 15 minutes.
Zsanett Jakabfi (2) – Mexico 82, Slovakia 53.
Loretta Németh (2) – Mexico 84, Slovakia 30.
Anita Pinczi – Slovakia 35.