Iceland have become the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup with an estimated population of about 330,000 after a 2-0 win over Kosovo confirmed their qualification for Russia 2018
The Euro 2016 quarter-finalists, who surprisingly knocked out England in the last 16, secured their placed in next summer’s tournament after Everton Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Gudmundsson scored in either half to claim all three points and secure their top position at Group I in the European qualifying stage.
Coach of Iceland Heimir Hallgrimsson, a part-time dentist, was skeptical about his players enthusiasm for another qualifying campaign after their exploit at Euro 2016 in France but was full of praise for his player after their wonderful display against Kosovo
“what’s more we are 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.” Said Hallgrimsson
After the game, a large number of the country’s football fans gathered at Ingolfstorg Square to pay tribute to their heroes, who will be looking to shock the world as much is not expected from so much a less populated country
They watched on as the players and crew celebrated reaching their first ever World Cup by singing and dancing on stage despite the dangerously cold temperature in the country’s capital.
Kosovo coach Albert Bunjaki whose country’s population is about six times larger than Iceland’s was quick to pay tribute to Iceland by congratulating them on reaching the world cup for next summer
“Congratulations to the whole Iceland team,”
“It’s a great example for small nations like our own who aim to have a good team, well organised, in the future.” said Bunjaki
Heimir Hallgrimsson will be hoping for a repeat of his side’s heroics at Euro 2016, where they memorably reached the quarter-finals.