Moldovan Choir Steals Show at Men’s Football Game

The Icelandic men’s football team played their final match at the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers yesterday evening. Among the evening’s highlights was the performance of Iceland’s national anthem, Löfsöngur, by a Moldovan choir.

The Icelandic men’s football team competed against Moldova at the Zimbru Stadium in Chișinău, Moldova, yesterday. Iceland beat Moldova 2-1 with goals from captain Gylfi Sigurðsson and Birkir Bjarnason (Nicolae Milinceanu scored Moldova’s only goal). Despite winning the match, Iceland failed to directly qualify for the Euro 2020 Championship. Iceland placed third in Group H with 19 points (Iceland can still qualify through play-offs in March).

Prior to the match, a choir comprised of approximately 30 women, dressed in white robes, sang the Icelandic national anthem, Löfsöngur (see below). As a journalist for Vísir insinuated, the performance was a pleasant contrast to the boos of Turkish supporters during Iceland’s penultimate match in Turkey last Thursday.

What Iceland Has to Do to Qualify for European Championships

Gylfi Sigurðsson football Icelandic national team

Chances for the Icelandic men’s national football team to qualify for the UEFA European Championships next year appear quite slim. In order to make it to the 2020 tournament, the team needs to win their upcoming matches against Turkey and Moldova, as well as see favourable outcomes from other matches in Group H.  The team lost 0-1 to France last Friday, however it won 2-0 against Andorra yesterday evening.

The Icelandic men’s national football team stands in third place in their group so far with 15 points overall. Turkey and France stand in first and second with 19 points each. Iceland would need to win both its upcoming matches to ensure qualification, which would additionally depend on Turkey losing its match against Andorra. Since Andorra has only won a single match in the qualifiers so far, that result is unlikely.

Icelandic football fans still have reason to hope, however, thanks to the UEFA Nations League, which offers Iceland a secondary route to qualify for the tournament.

Turkey Denounces “Disrespectful” Treatment of Football Team at Airport

The Turkish government has issued a diplomatic note to Iceland denouncing what it is calling “disrespectful” and “violent” behaviour against the country’s men’s national football team, aa.com reports. The football team arrived in Keflavík airport on Sunday night in advance of their Euro 2020 qualifying match against Iceland on Tuesday. They claim that they were then subjected to excessive search and security measures at passport control and were held for around three hours before being allowed to leave the airport.

A representative from Isavia, the company that owns and manages the Keflavík airport, told RÚV that per international regulations, airport employees were obliged to conduct a security check on the team and that it was more intensive because the flight on which the team arrived departed from an airport that is not part of the One Stop Security area whose security protocols apply to all airports in the EEA. Isavia maintains that as such, all of the passengers on the flight were subjected to the same security checks – including Icelanders. Isavia also says that the security checks took an unusually long time on Sunday night because passengers were traveling with a high number of electronic devices and liquids in their luggage, all of which needed to be individually screened.

Isavia contests Turkey’s claims that players were held for three hours, however: they say that the security wait was 80 minutes from the time that the aircraft arrived. The flight arrived at 7.40pm, representatives say, and the last passenger went through customs at roughly 9.00pm.

Feelings are running particularly high in the wake of the event, with some players on the Icelandic squad and Icelandic sports journalists even receiving threats over the matter. It’s likely that tensions were exacerbated during an interview that Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu gave after going through security; an individual who has since been identified and is presumed to be a Belgian national stuck a dishwashing brush in the player’s face like a microphone while he was being interviewed by reporters.

Turkey and Iceland do not maintain embassies in each other’s countries, but Fazli Corman, Turkey’s ambassador in Norway, is apparently on his way to Iceland to follow up on the situation. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also posted about the incident on Twitter, saying “The treatment towards our national team at the Iceland airport is not acceptable in terms of both diplomatic and humanitarian practices.”

Iceland Wins Euro Qualifier Against Albania, 1-0

Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson

The Icelandic National Men’s football team won its Euro 2020 qualifying match against Albania on Saturday, with a final score of 1-0, mbl.is reports. Iceland earned three points as a result of the win.

Although Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, who scored the winning goal during the 22’ minute, admitted to Vísir that the game “wasn’t pretty,” he and his teammates were thrilled with the result, which brought Iceland up to six points in the group. Albanian coach Edoardo Reja didn’t mince words when asked about the final score, however, saying that Iceland’s win was “undeserved,” and that it was the kind of match in which the team that scored first was likely to come out the victor.

“As I’ve said many times, Icelanders are very strong physically – particularly in the air – and as such, Albania kept the ball mostly on its own half of the pitch and tried to find a hole in Iceland’s defense. That would have been possible if the game had evolved differently. But then we made terrible mistakes in our defense, such that three players were like bowling pins – just stood there and did nothing but make horrible mistakes. It was that kind of game – where the team that scored first was more likely to come out victorious.”

The match was a scrappy one, with Iceland on the receiving end of more fouls than Albania. When asked if his team had played a rough game, Reja replied that it was “…a hard game, but football is a hard game” and moreover that he thought that Iceland’s players had a tendency to dive rather easily.

Regardless of how elegant the match was (or wasn’t), Johann Berg reiterated that it was an important one for Iceland to win, both in terms of the points earned and the expectations it sets for Iceland in the long term.

“Everyone’s been saying that we’re old, tired, and the game wasn’t sold out, which is unusual for us. We were determined to win the match.”

Iceland is currently in third place in their qualifying group, on six points. Turkey is in first place with nine and France is in second with six. The team’s next match will be against Turkey on June 11.

Iceland Loses to France in Euro Qualifiers

Iceland football team

The Iceland men’s national football team lost to France last night in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match. The French team won a confident 4-0 victory against the Icelanders at their home stadium in Paris.

Centre-back Samuel Umtiti put the French team ahead early on with a goal in the 12th minute. It was the only goal of the first half, which ended 1-0 for France. The team added three goals late in the game, with Giroud, Mbappé, and Griezmann scoring in the 68th, 78th, and 84th minutes.

Iceland won their first match of the qualifiers, against Andorra last Friday, with a solid 2-0 victory. The team’s next qualifying match will be a home match against Albania on June 8.

The Icelandic men’s team has yet to win a match against France. The countries’ last meeting, a friendly in October 2018, ended with a promising 2-2 draw. While the French team is currently ranked second in the world, Iceland sits in 38th place.

Iceland Wins First Euro 2020 Qualifying Match

Iceland’s national men’s football team won its first UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying match against Andorra on Friday, RÚV reports. It is the team’s first victory under new coach Eirik Hamrén, following the departure of Coach Heimir Hallgrímsson, who led the team to their historic World Cup debut in 2018.

Much as expected, Iceland took control of the game from the start and Birkir Bjarnason took the first shot on goal only eight minutes into the match. Minutes later, Ari Freyr Skúlason made a great cross to Alfreð Finnbogason in the goal area, but surprisingly, Alfreð’s shot went right over the goal.

Andorra had five corner kicks in the first 20 minutes of the game, but didn’t manage to make anything of these opportunities. In the 22nd minute, Iceland got its first corner. Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson directed the ball to Ragnar Sigurðsson, who headed it into the far post. Birkir Bjarnason was quick to take a rebound shot, which finally found its target. The score was 1 – 0 at the half.

The second half got off to a slower start, with very little action for the first 15 minutes of play. Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson then came in for captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson. Aron, who underwent knee surgery in April 2018 after sustaining an injury while playing for Cardiff City F.C., immediately had to ice his knee after coming off the field, but is expected to be in good shape to play Iceland’s next qualifying match against France in Paris on Monday evening.

Viðar Örn Kjartansson came in for Alfreð Finnbogason in the 70th minute and ten minutes later, he received a right cross from Birkir Már Sævarsson and scored the second and final goal of the match. This was Viðar Örn’s third goal with the national team.