Northern Ireland’s senior women’s team are expecting two tough contests against Hungary Women over the next five days.
Tanya Oxtoby’s side are due to face the Hungarians in a UEFA Women’s Nations League double header, starting with a game in Hungary’s North-West this evening.
Experienced defender Sarah McFadden said Northern Ireland are expecting Hungary to be “athletic and technically good”.
Hungary drew with Albania away in their opening fixture in the competition last month and then lost 4-0 at home to the Republic of Ireland in their second game.
However, McFadden pointed out Hungary were without some key players in September and she expects them to be stronger when the sides meet at the Gyirmoti Stadion in Gyor later today (5.15 start UK time).
They will face each other again at Seaview Stadium in Belfast next Tuesday (31 October) with a 7pm start.
Oxtoby is keen to secure as many points as possible across the two fixtures.
The senior women’s team manager and her 24-strong panel of players have been working hard on the training ground in both Belfast and Hungary this week to ensure they are well prepared for both contests.
She said: "We want to see progression in terms of the things we have been working on, but ultimately it's a results-based business.
"At the end of the day we want to try and win both games. With the competitor in me, that is our start point. I know we have the squad to be able to do what we need to do.”
Last month Northern Ireland lost their first ever match in the UEFA Women’s Nations League – 3-0 to the Republic in Dublin – before bouncing back to defeat Albania Women 1-0 at home in League B Group 1.
Hungarian head coach Margret Kratz goes into this evening’s game in the main city of north-west Hungary without a couple of key players once again. Young Inter Milan defender Beatrix Fordos and Bayer Leverkusen defender Lilla Turanyi, who has more than 50 caps for her country, had to withdraw from the Hungary squad earlier this week through illness and injury.
It means they will have a largely inexperienced defensive unit, although they still have plenty of solid operators in their ranks.
Their number one, Reka Szocs, has played 102 times between the sticks for Hungary. Inter Milan midfielder Henrietta Csiszar has 110 caps and 16 international goals under her belt, while fellow midfielder Dora Zeller, who plays in Germany for FC Koln, has 29 goals and 75 caps to her name.
Other regular operators in the engine room are Ferencvaros TC-Telekom pair Viktoria Szabo (93 caps) and Evelin Fenyvesi (89 caps).
Up front they have MTK Budapest forward Bernadett Zagor, who has scored nine goals in 87 appearances, while Fiorentina striker Zsanett Kajan has netted nine in 47 appearances.
The player with the best goals to appearances ratio is 22-year-old Ferencvaros TC-Telekom forward Sara Pusztai. She has earned 16 caps to date, scoring seven times. And Grasshoppers Zurich’s Emoke Papai (20) has notched five while making 25 appearances.
Most of the players in the Hungary squad play their club football at home. Five of them are on the books of the women’s team at famous Hungarian club Ferencvaros. And six of them play for Gyor-based ETO FC.
Coverage at a glance
Women's Nations League: Hungary v Northern Ireland
Venue: Gyirmóti Stadion, Győr
Date: Friday, 27 October Kick-off: 5:15pm
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