Per-Mathias Hogmo says Norway know what to expect when they welcome Hungary to Oslo for Thursday’s Euro 2016 qualification play-off first leg.
Norway take on Hungary at the Ullevaal Stadion, looking to ensure a place at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2000.
The Scandinavian side narrowly missed out on automatic qualification for next year’s finals in France as a 2-1 defeat to Italy in the last round of group matches allowed Croatia to snatch second spot in Group H with a 1-0 win in Malta.
Despite that disappointment, Norway’s performances in qualifying were generally impressive, particularly on home soil.
Indeed, Hogmo’s men dropped points in just two of their five home group matches and the 55-year-old is confident his team are well prepared to produce another strong performance in the capital.
Upon announcing his squad for the match, Hogmo said: “Ranking points are not important going into these games – doing your homework is. We feel we know Hungary well, and know what to expect.”
Goals were a problem for Norway in qualifying. They scored just 13 in the group phase compared to the 20 netted by Croatia.
To combat the issue, Hogmo has called striker Marcus Pedersen into his squad. Pedersen netted 11 goals in 10 games after a mid-season switch to Stromsgodset, helping them to second in the Tippeligaen, which concluded last week.
“We have made a point of selecting players that are in very good form at the moment,” Hogmo explained. “That is why I opted for Pedersen in attack.”
Should Pedersen start up front he will be tasked with breaking down a Hungary team who posted a decent defensive record in qualifying, shipping nine goals in 10 games as they finished four points behind second-placed Romania in Group F.
With just one away defeat to their name in the group phase, Hungary can afford to have some hope of returning to Budapest on Sunday with prospects of progression to the finals still intact.
Hungary have been absent from the finals of a major tournament since appearing at the 1986 World Cup.
Not since 1972 have Hungary played in the finals of a European Championship and Sporting Kansas City forward Krisztian Nemeth is keen for their 43-year exile to end.
He said: “These are important matches for our country.
“It has been too long since Hungary has qualified for the European Championship. We have a strong team with good players.”
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