As the coach of the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup, Iceland’s manager – Heimir
Hallgrímsson believes their EURO 2016 feat was no fluke, adding that the likes of Nigeria, Argentina
and Croatia should not underestimate the team in Group D of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The tactician however, said being in the same group with three-time African champion – Nigeria,
Argentina and Croatia would make them stronger when they advance to the second round of the
“If people still think EURO 2016 feat was a kind of Cinderella story, and that in some way we don’t
deserve it, then they underestimate us,” Hallgrímsson told The Guardian of London.
“The group is equal and I think that’s in our favour,” he says. “If or when – I don’t know which word
to use – we get through there’s not going to be any opponent much tougher than Argentina, Nigeria or
Croatia. It gives you the feeling that, if we qualify for the last 16, we shouldn’t fear anyone,” he
“They were just thinking of me,” he says, referring to the friends and family who feared he was setting
up for a fall. “It’s understandable, because we had everything to lose. Before the Euros started the
guys were just normal footballers. Now they’re everybody’s heroes, you’re taking charge for this
tournament and you absolutely cannot do any better. But, still, we did.”
The universe will probably have a few ideas for Hallgrímsson after the World Cup. He turned 51 on
Sunday and knows that, if the chance arises to develop his career from a position of strength, now will
be the time. “I have one of the best jobs in the world,” he says, but there is an agreement in place
with the Icelandic FA’s president, Gudni Bergsson, that he will take a fortnight after Iceland have
returned home from Russia to decide whether to extend his contract.
“I told them I just want to see if there are possibilities. It’s kind of selfish but I’m not a name
like Eidur Gudjohnsen or someone, I’ve been more or less the coach of an amateur club, so if you don’t
use any opportunity now then maybe it doesn’t come again. I don’t know what I will do, but I definitely
want to see if there are options to do something different.”