Iceland qualify for their first WC

Oct 11, 2017, 00:21
Iceland qualify for their first WC

Iceland were the smallest nation to qualify for a major tournament when they reached Euro 2016, proceeding to make the quarter-finals after conquering England, and they will now take their place in the main draw for the finals on 1 December.

Goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Gudmundsson at the Laugardalsvöllur ensured Iceland, which has a population of less than 335,000, topped Group I of the European qualifying section.

The four-time world champions finished second in Group G behind Spain, that booked their ticket to Russian Federation as group winners, with Italy through to the play-offs on November 9 and 14 as one of the eight best second-placed teams.

Iceland is a nation that for generations has gazed upon the horizon and seen dozens of armies gearing up for the battle that is World Cup qualifying, each one with infantry ranks wildly outnumbering their own.

Iceland won the group by two points from star-studded Croatia, who beat Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev to win a play-off place.

"And what's more in a group contested between Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Finland, who are much better than their position in the group would have you believe".

All Iceland needed to do was defeat last-placed Kosovo at home to clinch a berth at Russian Federation 2018.

In Group D, the Republic of Ireland also snatched a play-off spot by edging their winner-takes-all clash with Wales 1-0.

It's a confirmation of the rise of the Scandinavian island nation after their shock win over England in a surprise run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals. Moreover, Eygpt acquired world cup berth in 28 years as Cairo crackled with firecrackers and celebrations continued from dawn to dusk.

Italy - already certain of a play-off place behind Spain - ended their campaign with a 1-0 over Albania in Shkoder, Antonio Candreva scoring in the 73rd minute.

Academic and author Viðar Halldórsson who wrote "Sport in Iceland: How small nations achieve worldwide success" tweeted: "It's not genes, it's culture, organization and bunch of character!"

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