Interview to Heimir Hallgrímsson
Credit: ISL FA
Iceland qualified for the first time to the World Cup, after a huge performance in the Euro 2016. The team is under the leadership of Heimir Hallgrímsson. The best Nordic team at the moment, won one of the toughest groups in the qualifying because four teams were in Euro 2016 and all of them had possibility of winning the group.
After reached the quarter-finals in last tournament, Heimir Hallgrímsson improved the "book of tactics" during the last years.
What were the improvements since Euro 2016 that allowed Iceland to reach World Cup final phase for the first time?
We simply took what we had done well in qualifying for EURO 2016 and built on that. Continuous improvement is something to keep in mind.
Which were the challenges to maintain the same progress after reached quarter-finals in Euro 2016?
Iceland plays a fairly simple style of football, but we must not be easily analyzed and I think we have added some new pages to our book of tactics.
Was Group I one of those in which all national teams had a chance to qualify to Russia 2018?
It was certainly one of the toughest, if not the toughest, group in the European sector. In the group we had 4 teams from EURO 2016. We always said that it would be a tight group and the final standings would be determined in the final round. That is what happened.
What game did you feel that the qualification was a reality?
I always had faith in the team throughout the qualification campaign. Our only faltering really was losing to Finland away. But I was very pleased with the way the team bounced back from that.
Can you describe the atmosphere surrounding the match in Turkey?
The team was very focused on getting the win, which is what we aim for in every single match, and the manner in which we took the 3 points in Turkey sent a clear message. The atmosphere at all Turkey´s national team matches is fantastic, unbelievable noise, and that noise spurred us on.
Despite the evolution of the national team, it´s necessary to improve the performance of the clubs in European competitions?
Icelandic clubs have been taking steps in recent years, improving a lot, and qualification for the group stages of the Europa League always feels a little closer than last time, but we will have to wait and see.
What is the next step to continue to have a good result in UEFA Nations League and qualify for Euro 2020?
Planning for the future is part of the job and we will be ready when the Nations league starts, but for now we are focused on the World Cup. We have now qualified for the EURO´s and for the WC, and will continue to aim for qualification every time.
What are the targets for Russia 2018?
We go for three points in every single match we play. The tournament in Russia will be no different. One match at a time, we will see where it takes us.