Hungary’s number one goalkeeper Nándor Fazekas returned to the court after an injury and rehabilitation just prior to EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia.
With his lack of match practice, he was not able to add much in the game against Russia, but in Hungary’s decisive match last night (Friday 20 January) in Novi Sad, he was in top shape, blocking half of the French shots.
Fazekas stood like a rock and impressed insiders with his incredible performance that gave a lot of confidence to his team-mates. His saves were the key element for victory against the reigning EHF EURO title holder France.
In this exclusive interview with www.ehf-euro.com, the goalkeeper talks about the French clash, his increasing performance levels and also gives an insight into what the numerous and vociferous fans in the arenas and at home can expect from his side in the Main Round of EHF EURO 2012.
ehf-euro.com: What are your reflections on the French match and how do you value the EHF EURO 2012 Preliminary Group performance of Hungary?
Nándor Fazekas: Before the championship not many of us would have thought that we would gain so many points against our counterparts in the so called ‘group of death’.
At the start we dropped a point against Russia, but then showed in our next two matches that we are equal opponents to France and Spain.
We are extremely happy that we are taking three points to the Main Round.
ehf-euro.com: You played extremely well against France. Did the continuous "Nándi, Nándi!" screams and shouts of the spectators give you extra motivation?
Nándor Fazekas: Compared to the first game my saving efficiency increased. In our first match I felt a bit nervous. Every start in a continental event is tough, and you feel a lot of pressure.
With our good results in the first two games I have gained a lot of confidence and therefore my performance level increased.
ehf-euro.com: Speaking about the fans, would you say that they are the eighth player for your side?
Nándor Fazekas: Just like at our club Veszprém, the fans stand behind you as an extra person and it always gives us extra motivation.
With nearby Serbia as hosts, we are a luckier team in that we can mobilise so many fans. In Hungary around two million people have watched our final Preliminary Round game which is fantastic for a population of just under 10 million.
We are awaiting more interest for the Main Round games and even higher broadcasting numbers on television.
ehf-euro.com: The tournament’s crucial phase, the Main Round is upon us. How do you see Hungary’s opponents, especially Sunday’s counterpart Iceland?
Nándor Fazekas: During the preliminary phase we were only watching the games of Serbia. We are just about to start our preparations for Iceland and then for the other opponents.
ehf-euro.com: All the Hungarian players gave a tremendous effort in the first three matches, will you have the energy to go on and play at least three more matches?
Nándor Fazekas: France are a great example of this, as they were winning so many medals in the past and often playing with their best, first-choice line-up throughout most of the tournaments.
Despite sleepless nights and giving their all in every game, I feel that we can mobilise our craft for the next games and play at a similar high level as we did against Spain and France.