Iceland Football is a fairytale story which is inspirational as well as an excellent example for rest of the world. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the world with just over a 350 k population is a story which will be keenly followed in FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The football Icelandic Vikings will be eager to show the world the Euro Championship was not just a fluke. They are definitely in one of the tougher group but they never say die attitude can take them to the places.
With football’s mega event just over a month away, the coaches of the 32 participating nations are busy finalizing their troops for Russia.
Squad for FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia
Iceland’s final 23-man World Cup squad: Hannes Halldorsson (Randers), Runar Runarsson (Nordsjaelland), Frederik Schram (Roskilde); Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Holmar Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia), Rurik Gislason (Sandhausen), Sverrir Ingason (Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Birkir Saevarsson (Valur), Ragnar Sigurdsson (Rostov), Ari Skulason (Lokeren); Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Johann Gudmundsson (Burnley), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Skulason (Karabukspor), Arnor Traustason (Malmo); Jon Bodvarsson (Reading), Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV), Bjorn Sigurdarson (Rostov).
Reserve list: Andri Bjarnason (Helsingborgs), Elmar Bjarnason (Elazigspor), Kjartan Finnbogason (Horbens), Jon Fjoluson (Norrkoping), Hjortur Hermannsson (Brondby), Ingvar Jonsson (Sandefjord), Vidar Kjartansson (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Ogmundur Kristinsson (Excelsior), Elias Omarsson (Gothenburg), Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Nantes), Runar Sigurjonsson (St Gallen, on loan from Grasshoppers), Arnor Smarason (Hammarby).
Everton playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson has been out of action for two months but has been included in the squad for the world cup. He has been out of action for two months with a knee injury, but Iceland is hopeful about the 28-year-old’s recovery in time for the tournament. But missing from the 23-man selection named by Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson on Friday is Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who was one of the stars of Iceland’s shock run to the quarter-finals at Euro 2016. Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson can make changes before the tournament deadline on 4 June. Cardiff City midfielder Aron Gunnarsson has been named in Iceland’s World Cup squad, despite missing the last few games in the Championship promotion campaign through injury. The Iceland captain has won over 70 international caps and is one of the most important figures in the squad.
Iceland has become the smallest ever nation to qualify for the world cup and will face the likes of Argentina, Nigeria, and Croatia. It is a very tough group for Iceland. They will look to take inspiration from their Euro Championship heroics.
Iceland coach, Hallgrimsson — who still works part-time in his original profession as a dentist — proudly pointed out that Everton forward Sigurdsson, their most recognized player, is also the one with the best work rate.
“We know we can’t be best in all areas, we are Iceland,” he added. “If we tried to emulate Spain or Germany we would be a bad replica.”
Instead, Iceland’s philosophy was to concentrate on being better in certain aspects of the game.
“We know we don’t have the best passing team, so we are not bothered about statistics about successful passes, or percentage of ball possession… we have to be better elsewhere,” he said.
“We have to be harder-working than our opponents, we have to be disciplined, we have to be really organized, we have to be focused, we have to be good at set pieces… so these are things that have to be instilled in all our players.”
Image/2016 Sports Photo of the Year” (Iceland) by Vilhelm Gunnarson