Antal Németh’s team didn’t concede a goal in any of their three matches at the European Championship first qualifying round mini-tournament in Minsk, eventually qualifying for the Elite round next spring as group winners.
An opening draw against hosts Belarus and a 3-0 victory over Latvia left Hungary in the relatively comfortable position of knowing a draw against Serbia in their final mini-tournament match in Minsk would guarantee qualification for the Elite qualifying round of the UEFA U17 European Championship next spring.
Their opponents, meanwhile, had won one and lost one so their continuation in the competition was by no means assured.
That shone through in the opening exchanges as the Serbs pressed hard but Hungary’s well-organised defence held firm and restricted their rivals to shots from distance. Antal Németh’s team didn’t just focus on defending though and could easily have taken the lead from several swift counter-attacks.
Serbia continued to search with urgency for a goal after the break but to no avail. Their task became even harder when Stankovic was dismissed for a second yellow card.
That effectively put paid their attacking threat but Hungary, on the other hand, hit the woodwork and created several other opportunities to score.
No goals were forthcoming on either side though, thus Hungary finished with five points after one win and two draws, a record which was enough to win the qualifying group and progress to the Elite round unbeaten.
Antal Németh, Hungary U17s head coach:
“Congratulations to the players for their performances throughout the tournament. They have progressed from a very difficult group in first place without conceding ány goals at all. Of the two halves against Serbia, I preferred the first even though we had difficulties and concentrated on defending too much. When we’d sorted this out we executed our plans, our defence worked well and the red card helped us move closer to a win. I’m very satisfied with the players’ approach – we worked in exemplary fashion throughout the tournament and there was a tremendous unity within the squad. I’m glad of qualification but we’ll need to develop more before the Elite round and I trust this great success will give a boost to every squad member and provide a foundation for the next step forward“.