HOOOOOOSH! HOOOOOOOSH! HOOOOOOOSH! HOOOOOOSH! HOOOSH! HOOSH! HOOSH!
Get ready to hear that Icelandic war chant once again this year in Russia. The darlings of Euro 2016, Iceland, have officially qualified for their first ever World Cup.
Going into the final day of UEFA World Cup qualifying, Iceland topped Group I thanks to a 3-0 win over Turkey and Croatia’s 1-1 draw with Finland. All Iceland needed to do was defeat last-placed Kosovo at home to clinch a berth at Russia 2018.
While Iceland was heavy, heavy favorites against Kosovo nothing is certain in World Cup qualifying. And for the first forty minutes, with the score tied 0-0, you can be sure that Iceland and its fans around the world were getting nervous. That’s when their best player, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, fired them into the lead with this outstanding individual effort.
Iceland then added a second goal off of more great work from Sigurdsson, who found Johann Gudmundsson for the 2-0 lead and the match sealing goal.
Incredibly, Iceland is now the smallest ever nation to qualify for the World Cup in the history of the world’s biggest tournament. They came close in the last World Cup cycle before ultimately falling short in the UEFA playoffs against Croatia.
Their national team finally qualified for their first ever major international tournament at Euro 2016 and won hearts and minds along the way. At Euro 2016, Iceland shocked the world with a run all the way to the quarterfinals. Along the way, they picked up a historic win over England in the knockout round with a 2-1 victory.
Now they’ve built on their historic success with even more incredible achievements. Iceland had to earn it as well, winning a deep group featuring the likes of Croatia, Ukraine, and Turkey.
Can Iceland continue their success at Russia 2018? Why not? We’ve seen huge surprises in recent years with the likes of Costa Rica making the quarterfinals in 2014 and Paraguay in 2010. Iceland have already proven to be a very tough out and they have enough talented playmakers playing at the highest levels across Europe that they’ll always be a threat. We know one thing, regardless of how many wins they can get in Russia, they will be the sentimental favorite for the tournament.