Iceland Become World’s Smallest Country To Qualify For The FIFA World Cup
The Nordic country of Iceland have just become the world’s smallest nation to have ever qualified for a final FIFA tournament. After astonishing the entire football universe by acceding to the group stage of UEFA EURO 2016 and subsequently managing to kick out England in the Round of 16, the Icelanders have proved once again that they are a national team full of very pleasant surprises.
For the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia, Iceland was drawn in Group I alongside, most notably, the squads of Croatia and Ukraine. At the end of the qualification campaign, the Icelandic national football team secured the first place in the group with 22 points after 10 matches. The runners-up of the group were Croatia, with only 2 points behind Iceland.
Thus, this marks the first ever presence of Iceland at the FIFA World Cup. Interestingly though, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Iceland also met Croatia, their former recent opponents, but in the play-offs, after finishing second with 17 points in Group E, just behind Switzerland. In the first leg, Iceland manage to draw with Croatia but, unfortunately for them, the second leg was about to bring them a 2-0 loss.
Nonetheless, three years after the matches that took place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup play-offs, Iceland managed to achieve the status of world’s smallest country competing in a major global football competition and, who knows, perhaps the smallest one to get past the group stage next year as well!
Below you can see some celebration footage from Reykjavík:
Viking chant on the pitch:
Party on the streets of Reykjavík:
Documentation sources and external links:
- Football in Iceland | The Secrets to Success on www.guidetoiceland.is (in English)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA) on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA) on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Iceland’s profile on FIFA’s World Cup Site at www.fifa.com
- Iceland become smallest nation ever to qualify for World Cup finals on www.guardian.com