In a surprise victory over France yesterday, Iceland secured its right to continue competing at the Handball World Championship in Germany and is not going home.
Yesterday’s game was as good as the game against Ukraine on Sunday was bad. Iceland lost 32-29 to Ukraine and most thought they had no chance of staying in the competition and would be busted by France, the current European Champions.
But yesterday Iceland was determined to win and took the champions by surprise with aggressive attacks, excellent defense and goalkeeping right from the start.
After little over five minutes the score was 5-0 for Iceland. Onesta, France’s coach, called time-out and told his players: “C’est pas possible!”
But possible it was, and when the first half of the game ended, Iceland led by ten goals. Ólafur Stefánsson scored the last goal before the break and the score was 18-8 for Iceland.
At the beginning of the second half, France fought back and scored four goals in a row, reducing the gap to seven goals, 21-14. But Iceland would not give up, stayed strong until the last minute and won by eight goals, 32-24.
Iceland’s supporters rose out of their seats, the Icelandic players jumped and shouted and even their somber trainer Alfred Gíslason could not hide his joy, giving his wife a kiss and dancing a little victory dance.
Iceland’s goalkeeper Birkir Ívar Gudmundsson was chosen the best player of the game, having defended 16 goals in total. But all of the players were good and did their very best.
According to Fréttabladid, it was one of the best handball games Iceland has ever played.