Markmið! Or as we’d say in English – Goal! In an exciting victory, Iceland’s soccer team has qualified for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament with two games to spare. In fact, in the eight group games played so far, they’ve only allowed a measly three goals against them! The country has never qualified before, and were shorted qualification in the 2014 World Cup when they lost a playoff to Croatia. But the team never gave up, remaining optimistic – and it came with a major payoff.
With a population of about 320,000, Iceland came up as the smallest country population-wise in FIFA’s best 50. However, the team has shown considerable potential throughout its career, often being noted as an underdog worth watching out for. Much of the team’s vigor may span from Lars Lagerback, the head coach who took the team in 2010. From the beginning he said he saw potential in the team – he originally thought them strong enough to qualify in the 2014 Cup, and though he was wrong, he was not far off with his unshakeable confidence. His influence was apparent in their ranking as well, as when he took them over five years ago, the team was number 134 in the ranks. Now they’ve risen to number 23, and are doing their best to continue that steady climb.
Iceland hasn’t always been known for its soccer. Its gorgeous landscapes invite competitive ice and rock climbing, and other more popular sports include football, basketball, volleyball, golf, tennis, and even team handball. In fact, Iceland is ranked one of the top handball teams in the world. In the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2010 European Championship they won the silver and bronze metals, respectively. However, Iceland’s recent qualification has already made Euro history, and their determination is sure to push Iceland’s reputation for soccer into the public eye. Watch out for Iceland for some heart-stopping games in 2016!