The Viking Chants that reverberated the Euro 2016 is all set to mesmerise Russia at the FIFA World Cup 2018 too as Iceland created history by becoming the smallest nation of quality for a FIFA World Cup. We previously covered Egypt’s qualification story, and now it is time to unveil one of the most remarkable qualification tales we are ever likely to witness.
Their success in Euro 2016 is still a fresh memory for almost every football fan, and their qualification to the World Cup has only meant that their dream run won’t end any sooner. For a country of just 330,000 people, it was indeed unique to find a bunch of 16 odd players who can take on the whole world. But as destiny had it, they did see their perfect representatives who’ve not only taken on the planet but have also defeated them in an outright fashion. So, without any further ado, let us begin with the story and let you know how Iceland managed to continue their dream run.
Review of Iceland’s qualifying campaign
Before we tell you about the heroes and reactions from Iceland, let’s have a quick recap of Iceland’s entire qualifying campaign. Iceland was pitted in Group I of UEFA qualification for FIFA World Cup 2018 alongside Croatia, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland, and Kosovo. It was probably the toughest qualifying group in Croatia and Ukraine both posing a more significant challenge for the top spot than Iceland. Kosovo was playing a qualifying round for any major footballing event for the first time.
Iceland began their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Ukraine on 5th September 2016. They next defeated Finland 3-2 in one of the most remarkable games played in the qualifications scoring two injury-time goals to upstage a come from behind victory on 6 October 2016. Next up, they quickly defeated Turkey 2-0 on 9 October 2016 and sent out waves of an Icelandic Thunderclap throughout the whole world. In their next game against a much stronger Croatia, they lost 2-0 on 12 November 2016. They got their campaign back on track with a 2-1 win over Kosovo on 24 March 2017. They next had their revenge accomplished as they defeated Croatia by a solo 90-minute goal on 11 June 2017.
Their qualification campaign hit a setback as they lost 1-0 to Finland in their next game on 2 September 2017. They tasted victory again with a 2-0 thrashing of Ukraine on 5 September 2017. In their next game, they swept away Turkey for the second time with a 3-0 win on 6 October 2017. A 2-0 win against Kosovo in their final qualifying game ensured they take a 2 point lead at the top and qualify directly to the FIFA World Cup as Group I winners on 9 October 2017.
Heroes for Iceland
Gylfi Sigurðsson has slowly transformed himself into a player of top class. He finished with four goals to become Iceland’s top goal scorer of the qualifying campaign. Captain Aron Gunnarsson led from the front and was one Iceland’s mainstay. It was Guðmundsson though who became the finisher for Iceland as he scored the second against Kosovo to cap off some heartwarming celebrations.
The whole world was surprised at Iceland’s success, but everybody came up and joined the Icelandic Thunderwave to thank them for the gift they’ve been to football in recent times. The Laugardalsvollur Stadium was all lit up with firework after the final match as captain Aron Gunarsson led the crowd into the traditional thunderwave celebrations.
Hope you enjoyed this little coverage of Iceland’s glorious run and the contribution they’ve made to the history books of FIFA World Cup.