The Hungarian women’s national team played fourteen matches in 2016 and despite failing to secure second place in their European Championship group, the team nevertheless made great strides forward both in terms of performances and results.
Edina Markó’s team began the year in Cyprus by way of preparation for their two European Championship qualifying matches in the spring. Their performances in the Cyprus Cup already gave an indication of things to come, the team going on to defeat Croatia 2-0 in April in the qualifying match in Gyirmót before coming close to what would have been the team’s best result in many a year as with ten minutes left to play in their qualifying match in St Petersburg they led Russia 3-1 thanks to goals from Fanni Vágó, Dóra Zeller and Zsanett Jakabfi. Russia did come back to draw 3-3, Markó remarking afterwards that “If someone had said a year ago that Russia would be the happier team after a draw at home I’d have been delighted, but given how the match went we can’t be truly happy about the way we let victory slip from within our grip. We’re very disappointed because we gave an excellent performance and deserved to win”.
Had Hungary achieved victory in Russia they would still have missed out on second place, but the game could have served to give impetus and confidence ahead of the tough qualifying match in Turkey in June. Whereas victory against the Turks would have kept Markó’s team in the hunt for second, a 2-1 defeat effectively ended any remaining hopes of qualifying.
The team was also unsuccessful in its bid to reach the Balaton Cup final in the summer with an entirely home-based squad but the autumn was relatively successful, Hungary unlucky to lose 1-0 against Germany in Gyirmót courtesy of an own goal in their final qualifier. “We can be proud of the way we’ve played”, said Markó. “We made things difficult for the Olympic champions and only lost due to a desperately unfortunate own goal. The most important thing to learn from the match is that we don’t need to fear any of the teams we still have to face. We know that the top 15 sides in the world represent a different level to us but we can surprise anyone in a one-off game”. Markó’s words rang true in the final two matches of the year, an impressive 4-0 victory away to a highly-rated Ukraine side before the team came back three times against Serbia to win 4-3. Markó believes that the team must set itself achievable goals. “Whilst it isn’t realistic to talk of winning our upcoming World Cup qualification group, depending on the draw second place might not be out of the question” she says. “
Hungary 0-2 Italy (Cyprus Cup, 2nd March)
Austria 2-1 Hungary (Cyprus Cup, 4th March)
Ireland 0-1 Hungary (Cyprus Cup 7th March)
Hungary 2-1 Wales (Cyprus Cup, 9th March)
Hungary 2-0 Croatia (European Championship qualifier, 8th April)
Russia 3-3 Hungary (European Championship qualifier, 12th April)
Hungary 6-0 Albania (friendly, 26th April)
Hungary 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina (friendly, 31st May)
Turkey 2-1 Hungary (European Championship qualifier, 6th June)
Hungary 1-4 Belarus (Balaton Cup, 28th July)
Hungary 0-0 Serbia (Balaton Cup, 30th July)
Hungary 0-1 Germany (European Championship qualifier, 20th September)
Ukraine 0-4 Hungary (friendly, 19th October)
Hungary 4-3 Serbia (friendly, 23rd November)
Source: MLSZ – press release