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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Iceland eye impactful bow on world stage

Iceland have never qualified for a FIFA World Cup before but their showing in the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament shows they are not to be taken lightly despite being part of a very tough group.

football Updated: Jun 10, 2018 20:13 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,World Cup Russia,World Cup 2018
Gylfi Sigurdsson will be Iceland’s key man at the 2018 FIFA football World Cup.(REUTERS)

Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified for the first time in 2018

Qualifying route: UEFA Group I winners (W7 D1 L2)

Squad: Goalkeepers - Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Defenders - Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Midfielders - Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Forwards - Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson.

Although the Iceland national football team have been playing internationally recognised games since 1948, the first international tournament they played in was the Euro 2016.

There they somehow managed to make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament, pulling off one of the upsets of the tournament by eliminating England in the Round of 16.

Two years later, they have become the smallest country in terms of population to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and will be keen to make a mark on what is their first appearance in the tournament.

The fact that they qualified for the tournament after topping their group and finishing ahead of teams such as Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey is enough to ensure that they aren’t taken lightly.

ALSO READ | FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Nigeria aim to fulfill potential

The current crop of players are talented and they showed in Euro 2016 that they can be both tactical and physical whenever necessary.

Given that this is their debut tournament and that they are placed in a tough group, making it to the next round might seem hard even for a team used to upsetting the odds.

However, they might just play the role of party spoilers for the likes or Argentina and Nigeria.

Three players to watch out for

Gylfi Sigurdsson – He might have had a tough time during his debut season for Everton but there’s no doubting this midfielder’s quality. His ability from set pieces and creativity from the middle of the park will be key for Iceland’s chances of winning games.

Aron Gunnarsson – If Sigurdsson is the creative link, then Gunnarsson is the workhorse. His presence in midfield will not only prevent the opposition from starting attacks but also help bring out the best of Sigurdsson’s creativity.

Ragnar Sigurdsson – He scored the winning goal against England in their Euro 2016 match and also put in quite the defensive shift in that match. His experience and defensive stability will be needed in spades, especially against the likes of Lionel Messi.

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 20:13 IST