It’s all going off in the Iceland football camp as the World Cup inches ever closer. With blood splattered kits, dramatic star-player injuries, and emerging young heroes looking to make their mark, there’s no shortage of talking points ahead of the tournament. Here’s a roundup of the biggest news from the smallest World Cup nation.
Gory kit unveiled
Iceland’s new World Cup strip has been unveiled. It’s a departure from the classic flag-striped shirt of yore, as worn during the famous raid on Euro 2016. It instead features curious sleeves, speckled in red on all three iterations. One Icelandic journalist, Helgi Seljan, has perhaps cracked the code of the design: it brought to his mind the Icelandic phrase “Blóðugur upp að öxlum,” or “Blood up to the shoulders.” This aphorism has been used to describe working in butchery, but also, in the distant past, conflict with neighbouring nations. As the side move towards their World Cup-Winning Destiny, the kit serves as a chilling warning to the opposition: step aside, lest ye be smited into several pieces. JR
Iceland’s midfield maestro and attacking mainstay Gylfi Sigurdsson suffered a knee ligament injury whilst playing for Everton last month, and is out for the rest of the Premier League season. Gylfi went down during the game but rose again in a foaming frenzy of battle to play on through the pain. While certainly the Icelandic way, his brave and unstoppable charge could have worsened the wound. However, after the Icelandic nation carved healing runes into birchwood and made offerings to the goddess Eir, it was announced that Gylfi should be fit to smite again by the start of the World Cup tournament. JR
Get him on the longboat!
With both Gylfi and Iceland‘s “Arctic Fox in the Box” Alfreð Finnbogason crocked, and with two pre-tournament “Unfriendlies” still remaining, some young warriors-in-waiting have an opportunity to book their place on the longboat to Russia. Those seeking to impress “Darth Dentist” Heimir Hallgrímsson include PSV Eindhoven’s Albert Guðmundsson (who already has a better goals-to-games ratio at international level than Messi and Ronaldo) and Vålerenga’s twinkle-toed terror, Samúel Friðjónsson. Several young goalies are also seeking a place. It’s good to have a backup, just in case Hannes “Wild Claws” Halldórsson, who is rumoured to be part troll, should be caught by direct sunlight and turned to stone. GR
Iceland was beaten by Mexico (3-0) and Peru (3-1) in two March pre-World Cup “Unfriendlies” in the USA. The losses were, however, definitely nothing to do with pre-tournament gamesmanship. Mexico and Peru knocked in free kicks that our keeper definitely couldn’t have saved, had he leapt a second earlier; goals from open play went in as defenders ran absolutely as fast as they possibly could to try and stop them. Iceland’s opportunities to score included a close offside goal, and a header that grazed the top of the Mexico bar—such pinpoint misses would certainly be impossible to carry out intentionally. Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia can just relax… and not see Iceland coming. JR
In preparation for their second group-stage game against Nigeria, the boys in blue will whet their studs against some West African opponents. Their final pre-tournament unfriendly will be against Ghana’s Black Stars on June 7th. Before that, strákarnir okkar will keep things a little more local with a match-up against Nordic “rivals” Norway on June 2nd. Coach Heimir is unlikely to afford any respect to his former mentor Lars Lagerbäck’s side, and is pondering fielding the WAGs. GR
Read more about Iceland’s World Cup-winning destiny here.