The Icelandic men’s national team has qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia by beating Kosovo 2-0 at Laugardalsvöllur today. It is the first time the Icelandic men’s national team qualifies for the World Cup. Iceland becomes the smallest nation, by far, to qualify for the World Cup as the nation beats the previous record by a cool million. Trinidad and Tobago are the previous holders of the record as the nation of 1.365 million people qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Icelanders numbered 338.349 people on the 1st of January 2017 so it is safe to say the record was shattered.
Iceland finished 1st in Group I, a difficult group featuring the likes of Ukraine, Croatia, Turkey, Finland, and newcomers Kosovo. The Icelandic team knew that a win was needed against Kosovo if either Ukraine or Croatia won the grudge match between the Eastern European teams, which took place at the same time in Group I. Croatia won the match 0-2 with two goals from Andre Kramaric. The Icelandic team showed composure and finished the mission led by part-time dentist coach Heimir Hallgrímsson. Goals by Evertonian Gylfi Sigurðsson and Burnley player Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson secured the victory.
Iceland will look to repeat the heroics of the EURO 2016 where the team gained a lot of admirers for their style of play. The team managed to make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament, beating the likes of England on their way there. The Icelandic fans will now return with their famous chant, the Viking clap, to showcase it on the biggest stage of them all – the World Cup beckons.
Strákarnir Okkar (e. Our Boys) beat Turkey emphatically 0-3 on Friday to put them in pole position for World Cup qualification. The World Cup will be the second major tournament the men’s side qualify for as they went to the EURO 2016. The women’s side has previously reached the EURO cup three times but the World Cup has eluded the Icelandic national football teams hitherto.
The team has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the footballing ranks as Iceland was ranked 19th in the FIFA World Rankings this July – after a low point of being ranked 131st in October 2012.