Star midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson has revealed his positive mindset after the team’s defeat to Nigeria in Group D—”The Group Of Death”—at the World Cup. The team’s fate is now, to some degree, out of their hands. To progress, they need a favour from Messi’s woeful Argentina, who must help Iceland out by beating a rejuvenated Nigeria; Iceland then have to beat Croatia, ending with a better goal difference that Messi’s side.
Iceland have faced Croatia before, beating them in 2017 to top their World Cup qualifying group. “We know that they have one of the best national teams in the world right now, judging by their recent performances,” he said, in an interview for Fifa. “I don’t think it will change anything that we’ve beaten them a year ago, or lost to them three years ago. It’s going to be a completely different match. But of course, it’s great that we’ve shown that we can beat them. They’re hard to break down and strong, both offensively and defensively. But we’ve got nothing to lose. It rests on us to get a good result, and then we’re hoping for a favourable result from the other match.”
Gylfi is aware that the window for qualification is now narrow, but he’s positive that it’s mathematically possible to qualify. “It has happened before,” says Gylfi. “The most recent example is our game against Finland away. We were in a difficult situation at the time but, somehow, we always manage to fight back and do the almost-impossible. I hope that will be the case this time as well.”
Win or lose, Gylfi thinks Iceland’s presence at the World Cup can help inspire future generations of Icelandic footballers to do the same. “It would be a fantastic achievement to qualify from this group,” he said. “But simply being at the World Cup helps younger generations in Iceland. For them, being able to watch their own national team play at this tournament is amazing, and something I can’t really imagine because it was not like that when I was young. This experience can only be positive.
Read more about Iceland’s World Cup run here.