All eyes are on tonight’s Iceland vs Croatia match in Zagreb to see if Iceland will become the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup.
From Friday’s match. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
The international media has been covering Iceland’s success closely in recent weeks. The New York Times proclaimed Iceland a “team to watch” and according to Malaysia’s New Strait Times, Croatia is “staring at elimination.” “Croatia will have to overcome a sudden loss of form if they are to build on their impressive record of qualifying for major tournaments when they face Iceland,” the article reads.
Croatia has made it to seven out of nine World Cup finals and European Championships as an independent nation but drew 0-0 against Iceland in Reykjavík on Friday, the paper reports.
“Having punched above their weight to reach their first playoff, Iceland are likely to stick with their trademark industrious approach and hope for a smash-and-grab away goal that could unsettle their more resourceful opponents.”
Iceland is ranked 28 places behind Croatia at 46.
The Sydney Morning Herald carries the headline ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the Icemen.’ “The odds are stacked against the tiny nation […] but, as we all know, football isn’t played on paper,” the paper says.
Iceland’s coach Lars Lagerbäck is hopeful about the outcome of tonight’s match. “We know Croatia are a team of exceptional quality and (Mario) Mandzukic is one of the most versatile strikers in the game but I have plenty of faith in my team’s character. We have only lost one game in this World Cup qualifying campaign and that means something,” he said.
Sky Sports also ran an interview with Hjörvar Hafliðason of Stöð 2 Sport ahead of the monumental game. Click here to watch the interview.
The game kicks off at 19:15 and can be watched on RÚV in Iceland and on various stations internationally.