Hungary travel to Croatia for their 11th Men’s EHF EURO participation, with the goal of improving on their best performance – sixth place in 1998. The team maintained a stable position among the best eight teams in the world between 2011 and 2014, with a top performance at the London Olympic Games that resulted in fourth-place finish.
Since 2014 however, the ride has been a little rough, as Hungary ranked 12th at the EHF EURO 2016 and subsequently did not make it to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, they returned to the international stage for the World Championship 2017, where they sensationally eliminated Olympic champions Denmark in the round of 16 before placing seventh on the overall ranking.
During qualification for the EHF EURO 2018, with Xavi Sabaté as head coach, Hungary won four matches, against the Netherlands and Latvia, and drew against Denmark. They secured the place at the final tournament as the second-ranked team in qualification Group 1.
Hungary’s main goal at the EHF EURO, which will be the first major international tournament with new coach Ljubomir Vranjes at the helm, is to qualify for the main round and continue rebuilding the team for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Mate Lekai came to prominence in Hungarian handball during the London 2012 Olympic Games, when he scored the equalising goal against Iceland in the quarter-finals, which pushed the match into extra time. Hungary went on to finish fourth in the Olympic competition – Lekai’s best result with the national team.
The 29-year-old has also played three World Championship campaigns, in 2011, 2013 and 2017, and two EHF EUROs (2014 and 2016).
On a club level, Lekai played for PLER, then Szeged and Celje, gaining his first Champions League experience, before signing with Hungarian record champions Telekom Veszprém. His technique and creative capability make him the best playmaker in Hungary.
Roland Mikler became a staple member of the Hungary national team in 2011, and has been the first goalkeeper since the autumn of 2012. Mikler took responsibility as the main goalkeeper for Hungary at the World Championship in 2013, where he was one of the best players in the team. He has played two other World Championships for Hungary, along with five EUROs and the 2012 Olympic Games.
On a club level, Mikler has shown brilliance during European cup matches with Szeged and Veszprém. At the end of the 2013/14 season, he celebrated winning the EHF Cup with MOL-Pick Szeged, before moving to Telekom Veszprém.
In his first season with Veszprém, he earned a place in the Champions League All-star Team, as they contested the first of three FINAL4 events with Mikler between the posts.
Vranjes won three EHF EURO titles (1998, 2000, 2002), one World Championship trophy (1999) and one Olympic silver medal (2000) as a player with Sweden. He was said to be the most talented handball player under the height of 170cm.
After playing in Sweden and Spain, Vranjes moved to Germany, wearing the jersey of Nordhorn then, from 2006, Flensburg. Since retiring as a player in 2009, Vranjes led Flensburg to win the Cup Winners’ Cup 2012 and German Cup 2015.
Between these successes, Vranjes pulled off one of the most surprising EHF VELUX Champions League title wins. In 2014, Flensburg beat FC Barcelona and THW Kiel in Cologne, when they were considered underdogs at the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
Vranjes signed with the Hungarian Federation in the spring of 2017 through until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and also took the position as head coach of Telekom Veszprém.
Past Performance at EHF EURO events