Soma Vogel wants to win a medal at the European Championship (Photo: Imre Földi)

– How well did the BENU Cup serve to prepare for the European Championship? What has worked well and what needs improvement before the tournament, which starts in about a week?
G. Z.: – The attacking game can be highlighted, it worked well. In defense, we made some mistakes that were due to carelessness and could have been avoided with a little more practice. Overall, we can be satisfied.
S. V.:  – Physically, these matches were good training and we got feedback on how well the things we have practiced in the last weeks can work in matches. I think they can, as long as everyone sticks to what we've discussed, and we execute them with 100 percent concentration both in the front and the back. I am happy that we were able to host this tournament. Next week we leave for Spain, we'll be playing training matches with the world champion Spain, which is a different level. I'm really curious to see how the team will work, and how the tactics will work. I think we have put the World Championships behind us, although it was not easy to start training and playing matches again in the Alfréd Hajós Pool Complex. But we have to get over that and I personally feel that it has brought out more of a desire, more motivation to prove ourselves.

– Although you both are still very young, you are in the experienced, battle-hardened half of the team. For several of your teammates, the European Championship in Split will be their first-ever world competition. How is the harmony between the veterans and the newcomers?
S. V.:
 – It's funny because I walk into the dressing room and, at the age of 25, I feel old when I obviously don't think I am. I think we have a rapport, we can work as a team, and that's because we, the experienced ones, want it to work and the young ones are open to it. They are adapting well, and they have approached being part of the squad well from the very beginning.

G. Z.: – Yes, I also feel that I am old. As Soma said, it was not easy to get back to work after the World Championships. The preparation so far has been brutally difficult, physically demanding. So, after the three matches we've just played, I feel quite tired. Now we have two days of rest before we leave for Spain. I'm hoping that next week we'll be able to slow down and that I'll be able to rest. I hope the youngsters can cope better, and we'll try to compensate for their inexperience by training a lot, practicing everything very meticulously so that they can do it with their eyes closed, too. Of course, there is still room for improvement, but we are in good harmony.

Zsolt Varga does tough, tiring trainings (Photo: Imre Földi)

– Zsolt Varga took over the national team after the World Championships. The squad for the European Championship includes seven players who also work with him at Ferencváros. Does this give you any advantage over the others?
S. V.:
 Of course, it does, as we have taken many tactical elements from Fradi's style. There are things that we have played before with the national team and we kept them, but we also come across a lot of new things in training. It's a bit reminiscent of the old Zsolt when he started coaching at Fradi and pulled everything out of his bag. We have long, hard training sessions, but we really needed that now. We need his toughness, his rigor to bring this young brigade together.

– The head coach told NSO TV after announcing the squad that he would be really satisfied with the European Championship if he could see the team's progress regardless of what place they finish. Would you be satisfied with that, too?
G. Z.: 
– I would be happy if everyone improved, but I would be really satisfied if we finished in the top four. It would be a great achievement for this team. Anything can happen in the top four.
S. V.: – I would definitely only be satisfied if we won a medal. We really need it now and so do our fans. 

According to Gergő Zalánki, it would be a great accomplishment for the rejuvenated national team to reach the final four at the European Championship (Photo: Imre Földi)

 Márton Lévai (Genesys OSC Újbuda), Soma Vogel (FTC-Telekom)
György Ágh (BVSC-Zugló), Dániel Angyal, Ákos Konarik, Ádám Nagy (all three from Szolnoki Dózsa), Gergely Burián, Krisztián Manhercz (both from OSC), Gergő Fekete, Szilárd Jansik, Erik Molnár, Toni Német, Zoltán Pohl, Vendel Vigvári (all from FTC), Gergő Zalánki (Pro Recco – Italy)
The players' club is the team from which they have qualified for the squad.

Translated by Vanda Orosz