Hungary Women conclude Cyprus Cup campaign
Edina Markó's Hungary Women's team has completed the last of its four matches at the 2018 Cyprus Cup, posting a record of one draw and three losses against much higher-ranked opposition.
Hungary opened their tournament campaign against the People's Republic of Korea and performed admirably for much of the match against the team ranked 11th in FIFA's world rankings. Despite being placed under heavy pressure in the first-half, Hungary made it to half-time with the game goalless but the second-half began in similar fashion and Kim Jun Mi made the breakthrough by dispatching the ball into the right side of the goal from a lobbed pass into the box.
Markó's team then opened up a bit as they sought an equaliser, midfielder Zsófia Rácz impressing as Hungary carved out several chances, but Csiszár's shot was saved by the North Korean goalkeeper and Zsanett Jakabfi's 25-metre effort after receiving Papp's crossfield pass went just wide of the post.
As is so often the case in these situations, the team in the lead grabbed another goal near the end, Kim Jun Mi doubling her personal tally from close range following a right-wing counter attack. After the match, Markó commented that "I asked the girls to be braver in attack after the break and we had our chances to equalise against an elite North Korea team... and I'm happy we could play well against one of the world's best teams".
Hungary's second match two days later came against another strong opponent, albeit from a different continent, and Markó took the opportunity to give starts to youngsters Anna Csiki and Lilla Turányi. The initial stages were dominated by South Africa who took the lead in the 20th minute. Thereafter, Hungary took the chance to be more courageous in possession of the ball but could only create one clear chance before the break when Jakabfi's shot was saved by the opposing keeper.
Three substitutions were made at half-time in adition to one late in the first half when Szabina Tálosi had to come off injured and those changes seemed certain to pay dividends as Hungary took control of the game. However, they simply couldn't convert their chances despite Jakabfi and Fanni Vágó, the latter on her 100th international appearance, proving a constant danger to the South Africans' backline. Thus, the match finished in another defeat, this time by a single goal.
Markó was obviously unhappy after the game but was candid in her assertion that a draw would have been a fair result: "I'm disappointed because against this kind of opponent wa can concede a goal but if we can't score ourselves, we won't be able to gain points. They were better in the first half but in the second period we dominated, hit the woodwork, had many free-kicks and corner but just couldn't score.... even with this, a draw would have been a more realistic result but until we can score goals, we can't move forward in terms of results".
Two rest days followed for the Hungary squad before their third match of the tournament, this time against neighbours Slovakia.
A change of fortune was soon to ensue too as Hungary took the lead after an even opening half-hour, Vágo spreading the ball wide to Csiszár on the right flank who then unselfishly passed inside for Wolfsburg striker Jakabfi to slot the ball low past the keeper and into the corner of the net.
Hungary continued to dominate proceedings until half-time but Slovakia fought hard after the break to wrest back control and in the 62nd minute they succeeded in restoring parity in rather fortunate fashion, Hungarian defender Szilvia Szeitl attempting to clear a corner but only managing to head the ball into Fischerova's back, from where it rebounded into the goal. Neither side could find a winner in the last half-hour so both had to settle for a point in their last group match before the play-off placing matches.
This concluding play-off saw Hungary take on Finland, an opponent placed much higher in FIFA's ranking. Predictably, the Finnish took the lead, a pass behind Hungary's defence finding Linda Sallström who confidently converted to put her side one goal to the good, but Hungary came roaring back and were unlucky not to level matters through Petra Kocsán and the Fanni Vágó.
This momentum flowed into a early second-half assault on Finland's goal but slowly Hungary ran out of ideas and Finland took control, aided in no small part by a 61st-minute goal from substitute Emmi Alanen which doubled their lead. Theirs was a deserved victory in the end but the last 30 minutes were notable for the fact that Hungary tired considerably, no surprise given this was their fourth match in eight days.
Markó mentioned the heavy schedule in her post-match comments but noted that spurned chances in front of goal were a major factor too: "Straightaway at the start of the tournament we had to expend a lot of energy trying to the match the People's Republic of Korea and we could feel it took a lot out of us so that by the end of the tournament we had reached the end of our energy levels physically, mentally and in terms of concentration. We knew it would be difficult to keep clean sheets against higher-ranked opponents, therefore it didn't fit into our game plan that we would miss chance after chance and (against Finland) we again spurned three or four clear opportunities, so we didn't give ourselves the chance of a positive result".
Hungary Women next step onto the pitch on 5th April when they entertain Sweden in a World Cup qualifier in Szombathely before travelling to Croatia for another qualifier four days later.
Hungary's Cyprus Cup squad
Réka Szőcs (MTK Hungária FC) Barbara Bíró (Szombathelyi Swietelsky-Haladás Viktória FC) Anna Samu (Ferencvárosi TC)
Szilvia Szeitl (Ferencvárosi TC) Szabina Tálosi (Szombathelyi Swietelsky-Haladás Viktória FC) Viktória Szabó (Ferencvárosi TC) Lilla Turányi (MTK Hungária FC) Evelin Mosdóczi (Ferencvárosi TC) Dóra Papp (MTK Hungária FC) Alexandra Tóth (Szombathelyi Swietelsky-Haladás Viktória FC) Boglárka Horti (Kóka FNLA) Anita Pinczi (MTK Hungária FC)
Diána Csányi (MTK Hungária FC) Evelin Fenyvesi (Ferencvárosi TC) Henrietta Csiszár (FC Bayer 04 Leverkusen) Anna Csiki (Ferencvárosi TC) Zoé Magyarics (FC Südburgenland) Petra Kocsán (Ferencvárosi TC) Zsófia Rácz (PSV Eindhoven)
Bernadett Zágor (SKN St. Pölten) Fanni Vágó (SKN St. Pölten) Loretta Németh (Apollon Ladies FC) Zsanett Jakabfi (VfL Wolfsburg