Iceland, a country with only 330,000 populations is challenging the football powerhouse. Their Euro 2016 campaign was a success as they beat England 2-1 in last 16 rounds, and returned to their country feeling proud after losing 5-2 against France in quarterfinals. They were welcomed in their country as war heroes as some 35,000 football fans gathered to give them “Viking Thunder Clap”, and a similar moment arrived for the Icelanders on Monday.
Iceland beat Kosovo 2-0 in their final European Qualifier match and booked their berth for Russia 2018 as Group I leader. They lead a group which includes some established names in world football including Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Finland. Kosovo was the only newcomer in the group.
It’s a huge success for the Icelanders and it deserved the epic thunderclap. A tiny nation proved that you need will and determination to achieve anything you want. Heimir Hallgrimsson – part time dentist cum Iceland full time coach told Fifa.com, “After the Euro as everyone knows, Iceland had a big, big party. And you know how it’s a day after a party – it’s not always easy to get up and start work again. We knew we faced a big challenge in that respect.”
— RÚV Íþróttir (@ruvithrottir) October 9, 2017
“The hardest thing was to get going again after France. The first beer after the party is not the best. And what’s more we were in a group contested between Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Finland, who are much better than their position in the group would have you believe. The success is not an end in itself but a long journey towards a final destination.”
Iceland makes them the smallest nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup after Trinidad and Tobago (1.3 million populations) who reaches 2006 finals. It’s exactly nine months to start World Cup in Russia on 14th June 2018, we may expect an increase in berth rate for the Icelanders.
Iceland’s successful Euro campaign witnessed an increase in population nine months later and a similar increase can be witnessed before Russia 2018. My only concern is travelling fans to Russia may have to stay at home to take care of the expected mother.