FRADI: Next Stop, Europa League

On a night of high emotion and drama, Ferencvaros secured their return to European Group Stage football for the first time in 15 years thanks to a 4-2 victory against FK Suduva of Lithuania.

Spurred on by a spectacular Rocky inspired tifo display with the phrase Feladni Soha – Never Give Up – and a spine-tingling rendition of Himnusz, Ferencvaros showed the bottle of champions to come off the ropes and secure a famous result.

After a cagey opening to the game, it was the visitors who dared to spoil the occasion, opening the scoring on the 11th minute following the first of several failed attempts by Ferencvaros to play out from the back.

The loss of the opening goal stung Fradi and momentarily knocked them for six, almost long enough for Suduva to extend their advantage with what would surely have been a tie ending second goal. As it transpired, it was Ferencvaros who scored next in slightly controversial circumstances.

Ivorian forward Franck Boli was brought down in the box by the Suduva keeper for a clear penalty, however, as the match official blew for the foul, the ball rebounded off a Suduva defender and into the goal. The goal was not given and the penalty stood instead. Fortunately for all concerned Roli Varga converted the spot-kick to level the scores.

Better was to come in first-half stoppage time as Boli flicked home a cross from the right to give the hosts a deserved lead at the interval and send the 18,500 strong support wild with delight.

After the break Suduva emerged motivated from their half-time team talk, began to inch more and more into the game, winning more individual battles. On the 63rd minute their persistence paid off as Topcagic scored Suduva’s second of the night, from a similar position to Boli’s goal in the first half. Unlike the Ivorian’s strike, Topcagic managed to squeeze his effort passed Dibusz at his near post.

At 2-2 Ferencvaros was facing elimination for the second time on the night. However, for a second time they showed character and resilience to bounce back and regain momentum, and the lead just three minutes later.

Tokmac, who’s quick feet and direct running had troubled Suduva all evening, went on another of his mesmeric runs before firing a right-foot effort from fully 20 yards across goal and into the far corner. In an instant of genius, the tie turned once again in Fradi’s favour.

From here on out the hosts dominated proceedings with Tokmac, Isaes, and Signevich all missing highly presentable opportunities to wrap the tie up.

In the end, it took a second debatable penalty decision in added time, this time converted by Signevich, to put the icing on the cake and secure Europa League football for Ferencvaros for the first time in 15 years.


Hungarian Digital Football Benchmark: 2nd Edition

In January (2019) the inaugural Hungarian Digital Football Benchmark Report, analysing the digital reach of Hungary’s NBI clubs, was first published.  With the 2019/20 season now underway, we have decided to bring forward publication of the 2nd Edition, and are proud to announce that the Summer/Fall 2019 Edition of the Hungarian Digital Football Benchmark Report is now available on request.

The Report offers a high-level overview of the digital reach
and performance of NBI and, for the first time, NBII clubs, assessing how the
four most popular digital platforms used by Hungarian clubs are used; Twitter,
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.  The 2nd
Edition of the Report also marks the first time that YouTube subscribers have
been added to clubs Digital Community tallies, having not been included last
time out.

It should come as little surprise to followers of Hungarian football that Ferencvaros have retained their crown as the club with the largest Digital Community, the current NBI champions leading the way in follower number on all four platforms under consideration.

There has also been no movement in the top 7 places of the NBI Digital Community League Table, however, newly promoted ZTE enter the table in a highly respectable 8th place.  At the bottom, fellow new boys Rákóczi Kaposvár prop up the standings.

At NBII level, Győr leads the overall Digital Community League Table with a following of over 56,000.  Vác, Vasas,  Haladas, and MTK Budapest, covering 2nd to 5th respectively, all have Digital followings of 10,000+.

Notably, while all NBII clubs are present on Facebook, the
majority of clubs are yet to sign up to Twitter, possibly the #1 digital
platform for football fans around the globe, Instagram, or YouTube, suggesting
that work is still required to improve the digital reach and awareness of the
NBII and its clubs.

While there have been some minor changes to the Report, one feature that remains is the inclusion of the Social Media Directories detailing the social handles and accounts for all NBI and now NBII clubs.  I would encourage you to get social, to start following, and help to grow the reach of Hungarian football.

To request a PDF copy of the full report, please send a mail to kevin@hungarianfootball.com and we will arrange for a copy to be issued as quickly as possible; requests for individual bespoke club reports will also be considered.


Ferencvaros Vs. Valletta: Late Away Goal Blights Fradi Copybook

Ferencvaros enjoyed almost domination in their Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round 1st Leg encounter against the Maltese champions Valletta at the Groupama Arena.  Fradi ran out comfortable 3-1 winners despite a late flourish from the visitors, however, the loss of an avoidable away goal will take some of the shine off an otherwise impressive performance.

Two goals from returning talisman Davide Lanzafame helped Ferencvaros to open up a comfortable three-goal lead before the hour mark against Valletta, before some slack defending in the closing minutes allowed the Maltese back into the game, and possibly the tie.

After a cagey opening period during which neither side was able to gain a foothold on the game, Ferencvaros eventually settled into the match and began to take the ascendency. The hosts made the most of their home advantage and took the lead after 19 minutes in rather fortuitous fashion as Valletta keeper Bonello punched a Fradi corner into his own net.

The goal proved to be the turning point in the match as Ferencvaros, buoyed by a large and noisy support, immediately took control of the match. Lanzafame's clever movement and link-up play unsettled the Valletta backline, while the busy Zubkov caused no end of problems with his direct runs and dangerous passing. 

The Lanza-Zubkov combination led the Ferencvaros assault on goal and twice came close to doubling Fradi’s lead in quick succession around the half-hour mark before the Italian eventually got his name on the score sheet from the penalty spot.

The laconic striker added his second, and Frencvaros third goal of the evening, mid-way through the second half, clipping a neat finish over the Valletta keeper following another fine through pass from Zubkov.

At three-nil, and looking comfortable, Ferencvaros pressed for a tie killing fourth goal and came close on several occasions, Bonello making amends for his earlier howler with some vital saves.

However, as the game crept towards a satisfactory conclusion, Ferencvaros were caught out by a long ball over the top.  Fontanella, who was identified pre-match as the Valletta danger man, found a yard of space on the right before flashing a low cross to the far post and the waiting Messias who stroked home a vital away goal.

Worse was almost to follow as substitute Piciollo, again unmarked at the back post, saw a gilt-edged effort saved crucially by Dibusz in the 92nd minute.   However, the drama was not quite over yet as Valletta’s Steve Borg saw a late red for an elbow in the face of Ferencvaros sub Bole in the final minute of injury time.

Despite the 3-1 scoreline, the final whistle was met with a mixed reaction of joy and relief as Ferencvaros threatened to somehow throw-away a commanding lead. As it stands, Fradi will take a 2 goal advantage to Malta next week, but will they live to regret conceding that all important away goal?


Ferencvaros Vs. Ludogorets: Match Report

Ferencvaros got their European campaign off to a positive start in front of a packed and expectant Groupama Arena on Wednesday evening thanks to a 2-1 win over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets. Goals from Tokmac Nguen and debutant Oleksandr Zubkov, sandwiched Jakub Swierczok’s first-half leveller to give Fradi a slender lead to take to Razgrad next week.

Ferencvaros, making their first appearance in Champions League Qualifying since 2016/17, could barely have wished for a better start to the game as Nguen opened the scoring after only 6 minutes. The Green Monsters, who were vocal throughout the game, had barely caught breathe after a rousing rendition of Himnusz before Nguen’s goal sent the crowd into raptures; the Norwegian showing deadly instincts to poke home a Lovrencsics cross from the right.

Buoyed by their early goal and the support of the crowd, Ferencvaros were positive in attack and looked to take the game to the visitors. The combination play of Lovrencsics and Zubkov down the right was a constant threat to Ludogorets, while goalscorer Nguen fluctuated between moments of brilliance and frustration in equal measure.

On the 8 minute mark Tamas Priskin missed the first of several gilt-edged chances on what would prove to be a frustrating evening for the former Watford striker.

Despite the misfiring Priskin, Ferencvaros were comfortable for the most part with Ihnatenko controlling the midfield. That was until around the midway point in the half when Fradi seemed to inexplicably switch off and allow sloppy errors to creep into their game.

On the half-hour mark, Ihnatenko, who had looked extremely composed up to that point gifted possession to Lukoki with a poor attempted pass out from defence. A couple of quick passes later and Tchibota fired off a shot that Dibusz could only parry out to the waiting Swierczok. 1-1 and the Groupama was silenced.

The concession of the goal rocked Ferencvaros who failed to regain their rhythm in the remainder of the half. Ludogorets, on the other hand, only grew in confidence and it was the hosts, so comfortable in the opening exchanges, who were the happier to hear the half-time whistle.
Bar the early goal, the second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Ferncvaros started brightly and again looked to the combination of Lovrencsics and Zubkov on the right and the individual trickery of Tokmac Nguen to create openings.

Ferencvaros thought they had regained the lead on the hour as Dvali headed home only to his goal ruled out for offside. However, less than a minute later Zubkov fired home after some fine wing play Tokmac Nguen to give Ferencvaros a 2-1 lead.

As with the first half, the goal seemed to have an adverse effect on Fradi who once again began to lose their hold on the game which turned scrappy with neither side able to keep possession for an extended period.

Ferencvaros’ mental and defensive frailties at European level rose to the surface time and again as Ludogorets presses for an equaliser and second away goal and came close on 83 minutes as substitute Siger was caught napping in midfield. Fortunately, Ludogorets were not able to capitalise.

The final minutes proved somewhat of a rearguard action for Fradi as they withstood constant pressure, a lot of which was self-inflicted. Eventually, they managed to hold out and will take a slender lead with them to Bulgaria for the 2nd leg.

In order to progress, Ferencvaros will need to sharpen up their play and cut out the defensive errors as Ludogorets will no doubt pose a greater threat at home. However, speaking after the game, manager Sergei Rebrov was confident his team had enough in the tank to see the tie through.


Rebrov in Good Spirits Ahead of Ludogorets Test

Ferencvaros manager Serhij Rebrov was in good spirits this
afternoon as he faced the press ahead of tomorrow’s opening Champions League
Qualifier against Bulgarian Champions Ludogorets at the Groupama Arena.

The former Tottenham striker spoke of his delight at the strength
in depth that he has at his disposal in the current squad and how returning
Haladas loanees Rui Pedro and Tamas Priskin have impressed him so far during
pre-season.

Maintaining a cautiously optimistic tone throughout this
afternoon’s pre-match press conference, Rebrov highlighted the importance of
the Ludogorets tie to the fans of Ferencvaros who have had to endure some
wretched results in Europe in recent seasons.

https://twitter.com/KevinMcCluskie1/status/1148610584579059714

The Fradi manager was at pains to stress that he had left no
stone unturned in his efforts to prepare his players tactically, physically,
and mentally for tomorrow night’s first leg encounter.

When probed on Ludogorets by a visiting Bulgarian journalist, Rebrov spoke highly of tomorrow’s opposition saying they are a high-quality team who have strengthened further over the summer.  Rebrov highlighted 34-year-old Brazilian born attacking midfielder Marcelinho as The Eagles dangerman.  The naturalised Bulgarian netted 8 times last season as he helped Ludogorets to an 8th title in a row.

Tomorrow’s encounter at the Groupama comes approximately 11
months after Ludogorets last visit to the Hungarian capital.  On that occasion Ludogorets lost 1-0 to MOL
Vidi; a similar result tomorrow would be a great outcome for Ferencvaros and
Hungarian football as a whole.


Egri Erbstein Tournament 2019: Corinthian Casuals, Champions of Europe

After months of meticulous planning, what started out as a
dream between Dominic Bliss and Bertalan Molnar, finally became a reality
shared with the world over the weekend of 15th and 16th of June.  That dream, of course, was the inaugural Egri
Erbstein Tournament, won in dramatic fashion by the world-renowned English
amateur side Corinthian-Casuals.

The background of the Egri Erbstein Tournament (ETT) is
fascinating.  Whilst researching for an
article on the historic Il Grande Torino side of the 1940s, English football
writer Dominic Bliss stumbled upon the hitherto untold story of Egri Erbstein,
the Hungarian coach of that fateful Torino team.

With interest in Erbstein piqued, Bliss continued to
research football’s forgotten pioneer long after completing his initial
article, and would not stop until his book Erbstein: The Triumph and Tragedy of
Football’s Forgotten Pioneer was published. 
From here, the snowball effect began to take place.

Inspired by the story of Erbstein and the history associated
with his now defunct first club, Budapesti Atletikai Klub (BAK), local
businessman Bertalan Molnar re-established BAK after an absence of over 70
years.

Egri Erbstein: Football's Forgotten Pioneer

A bond was created between Molnar and Bliss who, by chance,
is also a follower of English amateur side Corinthian-Casuals which was formed
after the merger of the original Corinthian and Casuals sides in 1939.  Prior to their merger, both Corinthians and
Casuals had toured extensively, taking the game to, amongst other nations,
Hungary. The legacy of the Corinthians visit was so positive that the
Corinthian Cup was established and became an important part of the Hungarian
football calendar; the 1907 edition even including BAK.

With stars aligned, Molnar and Bliss set about organising an
event that would recognise the legend of Egri Erbstein, bring
Corinthian-Casuals back to Hungary, and promote the increasingly popular
amateur game in both Hungary and England.

Dominic Bliss (left) & Bertalan Molnar (right) pictured with John Forrest, the men behind the Egri Erbstein Tournament

To complete the line up for the tournament BEAC and
Testvériség, two of Hungary’s most historic amateur sides were invited to
compete for the Egri Erbstein trophy. 
And, most incredibly of all, Viktor Kassai, referee of the 2011
Champions League Final, had offered to officiate Sunday’s final out of respect
for Erbstein.

SATURDAY 15TH:

Corinthian-Casual Vs. BAK

The tournament opener was the game everyone wanted to see;
Corinthians, the English visitors, against BAK, the romantic hosts, without
whom there would be no competition.

Corinthians, in the pink and blue of the Casuals, started
brightly but began to fade around the half-hour mark as the blazing midday sun
took its toll on the players.  As the
half wore on, BAK grew in confidence and carried a threat on the counter attack
however neither side was able to break the deadlock by the interval.

The stalemate did not last long into the second half as
Corinthians hit BAK with a quick-fire double within 15 minutes of the re-start,
before cruising to an eventual 3-0 victory over a spirited BAK side who ran
their more illustrious opponents close for long spells.

Testvériség Vs. BEAC

The second semi-final was a far more one-sided affair as
Testvériség of BLSZ 1 cantered to an 8-0 victory of BEAC of BLSZ 3.  Tesi controlled the game from start to finish
and, had it not been for some wayward finishing, could have ended the game in
double figures.

BEAC for their part showed courage and despite the gulf in
class rarely gave up the ghost and could even have nicked a goal at the
end.  In truth, however, the scoreline
did not flatter Tesi, who marched confidently into the final.

SUNDAY 16TH:

BAK Vs. BEAC – The Bronze Medal Match

After their mauling the previous day at the hands of
Testvériség, few amongst the 100+ strong crowd at Sunday’s Bronze medal match
would have given BEAC much hope against a BAK side who had proven themselves to
be a well-organised unit in their defeat at the hands of Corinthians the
previous day.

By the end of the first 45 minutes however, those in
attendance were left asking where this BEAC side had been the previous
day.  Looking comfortable in possession
and holding a strong shape defensively, BEAC had controlled the opening
exchanges and led 1-0 at the break thanks to the tournament’s first
spot-kick.  At this point, BAK, who had
been unable to create any meaningful openings were starring at the ominous
prospect of finishing last and goalless in their own competition.

At around the midway point in the second half the heavens
opened and torrential rain poured down on Szőnyi úti Stadion resulting in the
game being stopped for 20 minutes to let the storm pass.

BAK used this time to regroup and was reinvigorated as the
match restarted, taking the game to BEAC until they finally wore their valiant
opponents down and levelled the scores with a penalty of their own.

From that moment on there only ever looked like one winner
as BAK pressed and probed for a second goal. 
Just as the game seemed destined for penalties BAK midfielder Barnabas
Kantor smashed home a 20-yard curler, worthy of winning any game, to give BAK a
hard-fought victory and seal third place much to the delight of the onlooking
support; a large number of which had travelled out from England to make this
special occasion.

 Corinthian-Casuals Vs. Testvériség – The Final

In front of a crowd approaching 200 spectators including the
British Ambassador to Hungary, dignitaries from Torino, and members of the
Erbstein family – not to mention the original Corinthian Cup – the Casuals
faced off against Testvériség for the honour of lifting the inaugural Egri
Erbstein trophy.

The Trophy everyone wanted to get their hands on.

What was to follow was nothing short of a perfect advert for
the amateur game, the real beautiful game, as both sides battled to get their
hands on the trophy.

After a cagey opening period where both sides sought to feel
their way into the game, the match developed into an intriguing contest.  Both sides had their moments of being on top
without being able to capitalise, and both were also wary of the threat posed
by their opponents on the counter.

As with the first match of the tournament, the final match
was scoreless at half-time.

In symmetry with the opening game, Corinthians started the
second half much brighter than their opponents, however, this time they were
unable to get the early nerve settling breakthrough.

Time after time Corinthians peppered the Tesi goal but met
with defiant resistance on each occasion. 

With seconds left on the clock and penalties looming,
Corinthians made one last venture forward and, in true comic book style, Harry
Ottaway was on hand to knock home a low cross from the right with the very last
kick of the tournament.

Corinthian-Casuals 1 Testvériség 0.

That moment when you lift a Trophy on foreign soil. Priceless.

The final whistle was met with chants of
“Corinthian-Casuals, Champions of Europe” from the travelling support and the
smile of a proud father on the face of Dominic Bliss who oversaw the
organisation of the tournament from conception to perfect finale.

THE LEGACY

It is safe to say that the inaugural Egri Erbstein
Tournament was a phenomenal success and it is hoped that this can be used as a
springboard for future events.

The standard of football on show over the two days was of an
extremely high and competitive standard and the turnout in the stands was
equally impressive, demonstrating the genuine interest in the amateur game in
Hungary.

Having spoken to Dominic on the subject, there is a clear
intention to keep the Egri Erbstein Tournament in the calendar on an annual or
bi-annual basis, and avenues to grow and expand the competition will be
explored.

On a personal note, one of the great take-a-ways from the
Tournament for me was the friendliness and openness I experienced from everyone
I met over the two days.  New friends
have been made, new club allegiances created (Corinthian-Casuals, I’ll be
looking out for your scores on a Saturday evening from now on!), and a massive
amount of respect generated for all involved in organising this wonderful
weekend of football.

This is grassroots football. 
This is why we follow the game, and I cannot wait for next year’s
edition.

Hajra BAK. Vai Corinthians.