A midweek evening kick-off. A real rarity in this part of the world. I mean, Hungary. The top flight has very rare mid-week games mainly as a result of postponements. The second tier has four or so rounds of midweek games per season, but these generally kick-off around 17.00 when the evenings are longer. (These are super good for the travelling fan.) And Hungarian cup matches like tonight’s and these usually kick off at midday because of the lack of floodlights at many of the smaller grounds. This is confounded by the draw allowing the team from the lower division to play at home. I think MTK’s home time was one of only two or three at grounds with floodlights so we got bumped to 20.00. The opponents are last season’s other top flight drop outs Gyirmot of Gyor. They have not quite had the rollicking success that we have had this year, but come straight off the back of the Kisalfoldi Rangado (Little Great Plain Derby) against Gyor in high spirits (I assume they are still f’’ked on palinka) after celebrating a 2-0 win.
I have an itch that MTK might do quite well in the tournament this year (which inevitably means that they lose this one) for three reasons. Firstly, momentum. Secondly, home advantage (although this disappears after this round as last 16 onwards go two-legged so let’s scrap this as an advantage). Secondly, Ferencvaros and Videoton have both been knocked out meaning that the two best teams in the country and those against which MTK would stand little chance have gone. This probably only leaves Honved, Ujpest, Debrecen and Diosgyor as teams I would want to avoid going forward. But one step at a time…
Diamonds in the sky
MTK have reached this far after beating Tallya and Ivancsa scoring a reasonable 13 goals in the process, but not since 2013/14 have they made it past Christmas in the cup. That year, they made it to the semi finals losing 0-3 to Ujpest whilst I watched from a hospital head with my ear recently stitched back on to my head. In fact, MTK have not made an impact this millennium winning in 2000 and making the final in 2012, but diddly squat else. Until this year. But one step at a time…
MTK are currently 100% at home with 9 wins from 9 scoring 30 in the process and conceding 6.
The weather is pretty brutal with snow falling throughout the day. I have refound my thermals because it is going to be icy.
And boy was it icy. The snow started falling pretty heavily as we made our way into the stadium. With the meteorological phenomenon known as el-it feels like it is ten degrees colder watching football than it actually is this was not going to be fun. Surprisingly, MTK had gone with a second string. A surprise because unlike the league, we could not afford to lose this one. I would have started a much stronger side and try to win the game in the first half. The game played like a reserve match not helped by the fact that everyone had stayed home. Apart from our little sector, the place was empty. Officially 900 watched the match. I reckon there was only 200 at most.
The first half was poor. Players were slipping all over the shop and the final ball was missing. MTK bossed position but did not really go anywhere with it. I am not sure either side had a shot on target. I stood in toilet for a bit at half-time to try and get some feeling back in my feet. It did not work.
It was colder than it looks
By the time the second half kicked off, the pain of the cold was overtaking the enjoyment of being at the football. Worst still was the looming threat of extra-time. I think even Robert Scott would have taken refuge if this game went on for 120 minutes. But there was a goal. The fall found itself rolling to a player in the box. We all knew the goal was coming. IT was in slow motion. The strike. The ball kissing the crossbar. And settling in the back of the net. 1-0 Gyirmot. Darn. I had cursed it with my optimism.
MTK responded with a degree of urgency and a few good chances went begging before youngster Gera Dani bundled in at the end away in the distance. 1-1. Extra-time looming. Darn. I like my toes.
There was still 25 minutes on the clock at the time of the equalizer, but the closer we got the more extra-time looked likely. The prospect of another 30 minutes was frankly horrifying. How could I get this game abandoned if it came to it? The minutes ticked by more and more slowly and we looked no closer to a winner. Maybe flares would be allowed in this game as a source of warmth. No-one had conveniently packed a flare. We could start a fire. A small one nothing big. Goal. We had scored. 90+3 minutes (Always feel sad that injury time minutes feel like an embarrassment to the game that they are not allowed to be written as 93. Like when I turned 21+9.) Absolute ecstasy. Forget the winner. The game was over. We could seek refuge. In the warmth. My toes. “Are you hanging around for the draw?” “Umm, no.”
The snow made the sought after warmth seem like a distant dream. But I made it.
MTK make it to the next round of the cup where Senyo will be the opponents. Senyo are from the fourth tier and a village of 1,400 people. The easiest team in the draw. So we should/could be going as far as the quarters without too much sweat. The tie will be two-legged played in mid- to late- February which I imagine will be delightfully warm.