Head coach Per-Mathias Høgmo didn’t want to admit it on camera, but football experts claim his Norwegian men’s national football team could hardly have hoped for a better opponent in the upcoming playoffs to qualify for the European Championships next year. Norway hasn’t lost to Hungary since 1981.
A draw on Sunday paired Norway against Hungary in the final round of qualifiers for Euro2016 next month. Their first face-off will also take place on home turf for the Norwegians, at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo on November 12, followed by a second play-off in Budapest on Sunday November 15.
“Meeting an unknown team at home first can have its advantages,” Høgmo allowed, without crowing too much about Norway’s historic dominance over Hungary. He also told reporters after the draw that he looked forward to be inspired by more cheering Norwegian fans at Ullevaal.
Both Norway and Hungary are among the eight teams now competing for the four remaining spots in the European Championships, which play out in France next summer. Norwegian fans had hoped for a pairing against Sweden, but Sunday’s draw instead left Sweden facing Denmark, while Ukraine will play against Slovenia and Ireland will meet Bosnia Hercegovina.