by Kris Goman (28/6/22)
Above: Iceland celebrate their qualification for Euro 2022. Photo: Iceland Review.
Iceland, placed 17th in the FIFA World Rankings, are known as Stelpurnar Okkar (Our Girls) and are a small island nation with a population of only just over 370,000 people (slightly more than the English city of Coventry or the Central Coast of NSW). The nation bats well above average in women’s football for its size. Vigdis Finnbogadottir was the world’s first female elected head of state, becoming president in 1980, and Iceland is known for its progressive feminist politics. Icelandic people use Patronymic or Matronymic surnames meaning their surname indicates the first name of their father or mother followed by dottir (daughter) or son (son). So for example, Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir is the daughter of Gunnars.
Goalkeepers: Telma Ivarsdottir (Breidablik), Cecilia Ran Runarsdottir (Bayern Munich), Sandra Sigurdardottir (Valur).
Defenders: Aslaug Munda Gunnlaugsdottir (Breidablik), Elisa Vidarsdottir (Valur), Glodis Perla Viggosdottir (Bayern Munich), Ingibjorg Sigurdardottir (Valerenga), Gudny Arnadottir (AC Milan), Gudrun Arnardottir (Rosengard), Sif Atladottir (Selfoss), Hallbera Gudny Gisladottir (IFK Kalmar).
Midfielders: Alexandra Johannsdottir (Eintract Frankfurt), Dagny Brynjarsdottir (West Ham United), Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir (Bayern Munich), Selma Sol Magnusdottir (Rosenborg), Gunnhildur Yrsa Jonsdottir (Orlando Pride), Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Olympique Lyonnais).
Forwards: Svava Ros Gundmundsdottir (Brann), Berglind Bjorg Thorvaldsdottir (Brann), Agla Maria Albertsdottir (Hacken), Elin Metta Jensen (Valur), Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir (Wolfsburg), Amanda Andradottir (Kristianstads).
The Head Coach:
Thorsteinn Halldorsson was appointed coach in January 2021 After coaching the Breidablik woman’s team since 2014, winning the Icelandic Championship three times and making the final 16 of the Champions League in 2019. He was a successful defender prior to coaching making over 150 appearances in the men’s top division.
Since he’s been their manager, they’ve only lost to the Netherlands and the USA. Iceland have also recorded wins against the likes of Japan, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic.
Iceland have qualified for three previous Euros, in 2009, 2013, and 2017. They made the quarter-finals in 2013 but lost all their group games in 2009 and 2017.
Iceland qualified after being runners up in Group F which consisted of four other nations: Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, and Latvia. Iceland only lost one match – against Sweden in their away match, 2-0. They drew their home match against the Olympic silver medallists 1-1. They recorded the biggest win of the group against Latvia 9-0 and Elin Metta Jensen topped the goal scoring in the group with 6 goals. Their goal difference was +20.
Iceland has a good grassroots football scheme that inspires young girls to compete professionally. The small population means that the Icelandic people are just as interested in supporting the women’s team as the men’s, particularly when they do well.
Iceland have prolific scorers in Elin Metta Jensen, Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir. They had a high-scoring run in qualifying and still kept out the likes of Sweden with solid defence. Most of the team play in the Scandinavian and German leagues, with the notable exceptions of Jonsdottir playing for Orlando Pride in the NWSL, Brynjarsdottir playing for West Ham United in the FAWSL and Gunnarsdottir having recently left Olympique Lyonnais in the D1 Arkema for Juventus. Only seven members of the squad play for domestic Icelandic teams giving them wide-ranging experience with their European opponents.
Iceland have never qualified for a World Cup and have only qualified for the Euros three times before. They’ve had reasonable success in the annual Algarve Cup but they lack big tournament experience. The pressure of this tournament could take its toll on some of the less experienced and younger players.
Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir is the Iceland captain and most successful player. She was a regular starter for Lyon prior to falling pregnant and then having a baby last November. She played again in March and was part of the Champions League-winning team in May. She’s just signed for Juventus for next season and is a calm and strong leader. Her presence will lift the team.
One To Watch:
21-year-old Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir is making a name for herself with Wolfsburg. The team made the semis of the Champions League this year losing to Barcelona so she has some big match experience. She also won the league this year with Wolfsburg. She is fast, technical, and brave.
France are likely to win their group but Iceland could get to the quarter-finals. Italy are becoming stronger and stronger of late but Iceland have a solid, experienced squad and it’s certainly not inconceivable they could get through. It’s unlikely they’d get any further though.
10th July: Belgium, 5pm, Academy Stadium, Manchester.
14th July: Italy, 5pm, Academy Stadium, Manchester.
18th July: France, 8pm, New York Stadium, Rotherham.
Impetus is previewing a different nation every day between now and the start of the European Championships. Click below to read the previously published articles: FRANCE – by Jean-Pierre Thiesset: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/25/euros-preview-france/ AUSTRIA – by Jorge Ceron: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/26/euros-preview-austria/ GERMANY – by Johnathan Stack: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/27/euros-preview-germany/- https://impetusfootball.org/2022/06/27/euros-preview-germany/