Crunch time for Bolton Wanderers’ keeper Adam Bogdan as Hungary seek first World Cup spot since 1986

By Scott Hunt

Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan will play a key role for Hungary as they bid to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986 this week.

Hungary are locked in a three-way battle to win a spot in the World Cup qualifying play-offs and a flight to Brazil next year.

The two-time World Cup runners-up face Group D leaders the Netherlands on Friday before taking on Andorra on Tuesday.

The Dutch have already secured first place and a trip to Brazil while Hungary are currently second, a point clear of Turkey and Estonia.

Bogdan, Hungary’s player of the year in 2012, is first choice goalkeeper for his country and is expected to earn his 16th cap on Friday.

Anticipated defeat against the Netherlands would leave Hungary relying on others, as Turkey and Estonia meet each other on Friday.

Tuesday’s match against Andorra should be a straightforward victory for Bogdan and Hungary who haven’t featured at a major international tournament for over two decades.

For a nation with a rich football pedigree, including three Olympic titles, a return to top-level international football is long overdue.

Their most famous player, Ferenc Puskas, is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time having scored 84 goals in 85 international matches.

Brazil 2014 will be 60 years on from when Hungary, featuring Puskas, won their second World Cup runners-up medals in 1954.

Now Bolton’s Bogdan will hope to be a key man in confirming their return to international football’s biggest stage.

Bolton’s second player featuring on the international stage is South Korea’s Chung-Yong Lee, selected for friendlies against Brazil and Mali. 2002 joint host nation Korea have already qualified for the 2014 edition.

The winger could win his 50th international cap this week if he features in both of Korea’s friendly fixtures.

Tim Ream has not been selected for the USA’s World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama.

Ream, 26, has fought his way back into Freedman’s Bolton team in recent weeks but has been overlooked by Juergen Klinsmann at international level.

Jermaine Beckford, who scored his first goal of the season on Saturday, has not been selected by Jamaica.

Image courtesy of BWFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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