Monthly review: Debreceni VSC are in fine fettle as they kick off their title defence in Hungary's First Division.
By Márton Dinnyés
Hungarian champions Debreceni VSC are in fine fettle going into the new season after a summer of successful transfer activity, a thrilling victory in the Super Cup and a superb start to their UEFA Champions League campaign.
Raring to go
"I think we have made some good signings and have had a decent pre-season, but you can only say everything is fine once you have finished your first game of the new term," said Debrecen coach Attila Supka, before leading his side to a 3-0 Champions League second qualifying round win against Croatia's HNK Hajduk Split on Wednesday.
Debrecen have made three major additions to their squad - defenders Dragan Vukmir and Péter Máté from Ferencvárosi TC and Diósgyöri BFC respectively, plus Senegalese striker Ibrahima Sidibe who impressed on trial having plied his trade at three Austrian clubs, FC Wacker Tirol, SV Pasching and SV Ried, where he scored seven goals last term.
A fourth arrival could materialise in the shape of former Italian international Giuseppe Signori. The 37-year-old spent last season at Iraklis FC but has been training with the Hungarian champions. The Super Cup provided yet more cause for cheer as Debrecen overturned a 4-2 first-leg deficit to take the trophy for the first time, 5-4 on aggregate against Matáv Football Club Sopron.
By contrast, Ferencváros seem to have entered an inexorable tailspin, forced to sell their best players to balance the books, including two Hungarian internationals. Winger Szabolcs Huszti has gone to FC Metz and centre-back Gábor Gyepes will spend the first half of the campaign at English second-tier side Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. Striker Thomas Sowunmi and midfielder Adem Kapic have also moved on.
The youngsters drafted in to replace them failed their first big test, crashing out of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round to Belarussian outfit FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk.
Csank's winning formula
Despite their Super Cup defeat, Sopron enter the season in high spirits and with a new coach, János Csank, who took both Ferencváros and minnows Váci FC to league titles. Sopron have snapped up 28-year-old Romanian attacking midfielder Ilin Cotan from CF Liberty Salonta and Hungarian forward Zoltán Fülöp from SV Mattersburg in Austria. Cotan immediately endeared himself to the fans with two goals in the first half of the Super Cup first leg.
There are changes too at Ferencváros's traditionals rival Budapest Honvéd FC. New coach Aldo Dolcetti, a compatriot of club owner Piero Pini, believes the men in red and black will soon compete for the championship. But the former Serie A player has already lost his first battle, Honvéd failing to sign Emmanuel Osie from AS Livorno Calcio after lengthy negotiations.
Györi ETO FC have grabbed former international defender János Mátyus from VfB Admira Wacker Mödling and striker Péter Bajzát from German club SC Rot-Weiss Oberhausen. Meanwhile, Újpesti TE signed a long-term player exchange agreement with Dutch giants Feyenoord.
The two top-flight newcomers are the youthful REAC Budapest and 1999 Hungarian Cup finalists FC Tatabánya, who return to the élite for the first time since 2001.