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Lajos Mocsai

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‘We want to remain among the world’s top eight’ 
Interview with Hungarian head coach Lajos Mocsai before the World Championship in Spain
Lajos Mocsai has been the head coach of the Hungarian men’s national team since 2010 for a second time after the period from 1985 to 1989. Until the end of last season he had coached Hungary’s record champion MKB Veszprem in parallel, but since last summer Mocsai has been fully concentrating on his work for the federation, as he is also the head of the new national talent programme. From 1998 to 2004 he was the coach of the Hungarian women’s national team he led to the 2000 Olympic final and the 2003 WCh final. Currently Lajos is also the coach of his son Tamas Mocsai – and both contributed to a major achievement in recent years when they first ranked 7th at the 2011 World Championship then qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games where to everybody’s surprise they advanced to the semi-finals but eventually missed a medal to rank fourth. Aged 58 Mocsai hopes his team might remain among the world’s top eight/six at the coming WCh despite a tough preliminary round group. 
Your team finished fourth at the Olympic Games in last August – would that rank be the aim for the World Championship in Spain too?
Lajos Mocsai: Rank four was outstanding for our team. Now we want to continue proving that we belong to the world’s top. Thus it seems realistic to seek a position among the top six or eight teams at the WCh. Anyway, it will be a high hurdle to cross. 
You will meet major opponents Spain or Croatia at the preliminary stage already. How do you rate the chances of topping the group after completion of the preliminaries?
Lajos Mocsai: We focus on qualification for the eighth-finals first. Spain will obtain great support from their fans. So they are among the top favourites of the tournament. Aside I estimate Croatia could be a main contender for the title. So we have to wait and see how those matches will run. We are eager to go ahead regardless of the rank. 
But regarding those opponents a potential rival at the eighth-final stage might be a rather easy one?
Lajos Mocsai: Maybe, but currently I don’t think that far. The general level of this World Championship will be higher compared to previous events. For the first time ever five teams from former Yugoslavia have qualified for a World Championship to add a new dimension of quality. So I am expecting many close games, as nearly all preliminary round groups are well balanced. 

Experienced goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas quit the national team after the Olympics. Will the squad for Spain see more major changes?
Lajos Mocsai: First I understand Nandor’s decision. He is 37 years old now and does not want to be part of every preparatory session. But he confirmed me that he is in a stand-by mode if there are problems. Except for him the team for Spain will almost be similar to our Olympic squad with two or three minor changes. So I hope a powerful Hungarian team will represent our country. 
A major key player of the team is Laszlo Nagy, as he had returned before the Olympic Games. Will he be extremely motivated for the World Championship, as he had played 12 years in Spain until last summer?
Lajos Mocsai: Yes, I expect him to be extremely motivated. Laszlo is an outstanding player, who will be in the spotlight in Spain. 
Your former club team of Veszprem has improved tremendously since Nagy and others were signed last summer. Do Veszprem’s international achievements give an impulse to the national team?
Lajos Mocsai: They signed some world-class players and deserve to be at the top of their Champions League group. But they did not only sign Laszlo but also three Spanish players, who will be our preliminary opponents in Spain. So it is ambivalent. But in general Veszprem’s achievements will give a boost to Hungarian handball. 
Do you expect any surprise team to advance to the semis, or are those four spots reserved for the ‘usual suspects’?
Lajos Mocsai: As mentioned I expect a lot from the teams from former Yugoslavia. Russia has improved, too. In my opinion the new playing system with eighth-finals and quarter-finals instead of a main round will cause some surprises. 
So do you like or dislike this new system?
Lajos Mocsai: I will tell you after the World Championship because all teams will have to experience this format first.