There were few more remarkable stories in football last summer than Iceland’s progress through the group and through to the quarter-finals in Euro 2016.
Jón Daði Böðvarsson was a key part of that – the striker netted in a group-stage win against Austria, and helped his island nation to upset England in the knock-out stages.
But they are on a mission to prove that it wasn’t a one-off… World Cup qualification is a serious possibility. With 13 points from six games in qualifying Group I, only Croatia’s superior goal-difference prevents them from sitting atop of the pool.
So the next two games are critical for Iceland. First is a trip to Tampere on Saturday to take on Anssi Jaakkola’s Finland, before a return to Reykjavik on Tuesday to host Ukraine.
“It looks really good,” Böðvarsson said. “We have the same amount of points as Croatia at the top of the group, although they have a better goal-difference at the moment.
“Four games left – four finals for us. Those next two games are very important for us. Hopefully I’ll get some minutes there and put in a great shift… and come back injury-free!
“Anssi has been making these jokes that Finland are going to win… it’s not even funny – it’s never going to happen!
“In a short period of time, it has been fantastic. The mindset in general of the national team has been different class. It’s a credit to the coaches – Lars Lagerbäck who was there before, and now Heimir Hallgrímsson who is a fantastic guy and a fantastic coach.
“We are just hoping to always be a consistent as possible and hope that the Euros wasn’t a one-time thing – hopefully we can qualify for the World Cup as well. We’ll do our very best.”