October 30, 2017 / 3:40 PM / a year ago

Hungary appoint Belgian Leekens as coach

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary have appointed Belgian Georges Leekens as their national coach, the Hungarian Football Association (HFA) said on Monday as it seeks to restore the team to former glories.

Sandor Csanyi (L), President of the Hungarian Football Association, shakes hands with Georges Leekens (R), new national coach of the Hungarian national football team, after a news conference in Telki, Hungary October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Leekens, 68, takes charge after Hungary parted ways this month with German Bernd Stock, following the unsuccessful qualifying campaign for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Hungary finished as runners-up in the 1938 and 1954 World Cups but have not qualified for the global showpiece tournament since 1986.

Georges Leekens, new coach of the Hungarian national soccer team, attends a news conference in Telki, Hungary October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Leekens, who has signed a two-year-contract, has had two spells as manager of his native Belgium.

The first included a run to the 1998 World Cup in France, and between 2010-2012 he laid the foundations for the team that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 tournament and last year’s European Championship.

He has also coached Tunisia and Algeria.

“I cannot guarantee success, only hard work,” Leekens told a news conference on Monday. “I will put together a team that will fight till the end to get to the next European Championship through the qualifiers.”

Former defender Zoltan Szelesi will remain as interim coach for the remaining fixtures this year, friendlies against Luxembourg on Nov. 10 and Costa Rica four days later.

Reporting by Zoltan Fazekas,; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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