Tokmac Nguen expects a big derby against Crvena Zvezda (Photo: István Mirkó/Magyar Nemzet, archive)

 

Zoltán Gera's hand could have been luckier. In Friday's draw in Istanbul, the 97-capped Hungarian midfielder, as host of the final in Budapest, drew the Europa League group stage teams. He pulled out Ferencváros last from Pot 3.

The players of the Hungarian champion team watched the draw ceremony in Dublin at the venue of their Europa League play-off return leg which they lost 1-0 to Shamrock Rovers on Thursday night. And the reception about how Zoltán Gera's hands were moving was mixed after the ceremony. Most felt that the former Ferencváros manager's hands could have been luckier, with the majority of footballers preferring to be in the group of Arsenal, AS Roma, or Lazio.

Ferencváros will face FK Crvena Zvezda of Serbia, AS Monaco of France and Trabzonspor of Türkiye in Group H of this year's Europa League. Stanislav Cherchesov's team should somehow manage to finish third in this quartet.

Tokmac Nguen captained Fradi against Shamrock Rovers on Thursday in the absence of Dénes Dibusz. The Norwegian midfielder watched the draw ceremony with Aïssa Laïdouni in his hotel room in Ireland.

„We're in a good group, we're up against tough opponents – the striker told our newspaper a few minutes after the ceremony. – We've had a lot of battles in European cups in recent years, we've tested ourselves against teams from many nations, but we've never played against a French team, so I'm particularly happy for Monaco. It will be good to see where we stand compared to an opponent of this level. We got Crvena Zvezda from Pot 1, when I saw that we were in the same group, I immediately thought of the recent clash against Slovan Bratislava. I think this will be a derby too! Like us, the Serbian team has a lot of fans as well."

Ferencváros does not deny that after the group stages of the past few years, the goal now would be to survive the spring, and to do so they would have to at least finish third in the group. The players believe that the quartet Ferencváros is in is a tricky one, as the clubs are not as strong in names but in terms of playing ability, they are.

„We have to give our best in the group," continued Tokmac Nguen. "We are clearly not the favorites, and I don't really care whether we finish third or not. I'm more interested in doing better than last year. If we could finish the group with two wins, I'd be satisfied, that would be a great success. But Ferencváros is strong enough to make our mark in Europe.”

Bálint Vécsei (Photo: Miklós Szabó, archive)


Bálint Vécsei,
the defensive midfielder of Ferencváros, also gathered in a hotel room with many others and watched the ceremony on Friday. He was excited to see who their opponents will be in the European competition in the fall.

„Some people in the room commented that Zoli Gera's hand could have been luckier – Bálint Vécsei smiled. “There were some really promising foursomes, and I wouldn't have minded if we had an Italian opponent, as I played in Italy myself. Behind Lazio and Feyenoord, it would have been nice if Zoli Gera had pulled us out, but our group is not bad either.”

According to the 10-capped midfielder, they are in a group of similar strength to last season, when they were drawn with Bayer Leverkusen of Germany, Real Betis of Spain, and Celtic of Scotland last year.

„At first glance, this group also looks weaker, but only because of the names of the teams, not because of their playing strength. From Pot 1, we didn't get one of the strongest teams, Roma, Arsenal, or even Manchester United, but Crvena Zvezda. So again, we're in a group of four where we're facing three opponents of similar quality. We will start the matches ahead of us with the idea that third place is reachable, and that should be our goal."

Translated by Vanda Orosz.