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Géza Mészöly's high hopes for Hungary

Géza Mészöly is hoping Hungary can follow in the footsteps of their 2008 predecessors, who reached the semi-finals, as the hosts aim to impress on home soil.

Hungary coach Géza Mészöly
Hungary coach Géza Mészöly ©mlsz.hu

Géza Mészöly is familiar with the pressures of international football having won 18 caps for Hungary in his playing days; now, he is looking to mastermind their UEFA European Under-19 Championship campaign on home soil with the minimum target of a top-three group finish to reach the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

UEFA.com: What are your thoughts on the draw?

Géza Mészöly: We could have drawn even harder opponents, but the opponents we will face will be very, very strong. We play Austria in the first match, perhaps the strongest team in the group, followed by our second match against Portugal, who are very much the same high level, and then we face Israel. We know them well having defeated them 1-0 last year and I saw their last elite round match against Georgia; they will also be strong opponents. I trust we will prepare as we have for our fixtures in the spring [in which Hungary remained unbeaten] and that we will going to play as well as we did then.

UEFA.com: What are Hungary's strengths?

Mészöly: Our biggest strength is that we've been together for three years and have played 67 matches together. We have a good attitude and I trust we will be at our best when the tournament starts. We are able to turn matches around from losing situations and even in the last minutes we want to score goals so hopefully we can entertain the Hungarian fans.

UEFA.com: How good has the team been in the last year?

Mészöly: We have improved our mentality a lot, we have very good doctors and a serious, focused backroom staff has developed behind this team so there are foundations here which are beneficial. We could see the improvement in our results this spring.

UEFA.com: What are your hopes for the tournament?

Mészöly: Our aim is to qualify for next year's U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. It is very important for our young players that, apart from this European Championship, they have the chance to experience that kind of world tournament so that they can develop even more. From this, Hungarian football can also benefit.

UEFA.com: What does playing in this tournament mean to the team?

Mészöly: I'm feeling more and more that the players understand the meaning of hosting this tournament. Hungarian football lovers have been starved of success and for a long time Hungary has not hosted a tournament of this magnitude. We would very much like our group of players, who are at such a good technical level, to match the achievements of the group who reached the semi-finals in 2008 and finished third at the U-20 World Cup the following year. We are sure that with this group now we are capable of achieving such aims.

UEFA.com: What does hosting this tournament mean for Hungarian football?

Mészöly: Our players get to play more and more international matches which is very important for their careers. For Hungarian football it is very important that these players can step up again to the full national team to help us reach higher levels: a World Cup finals. We are aware of and can bear that responsibility.