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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Iceland bows out graciously of FIFA 2018

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is the world's northern most capital of a sovereign state. Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Ingólfur Arnarson, was established in AD 874.  The  famous Reykjavík Summit  meeting between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev,  was held in Höfði in Reykjavík, on 11–12 October 1986. The talks collapsed at the last minute, but the progress that had been achieved eventually resulted in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, being the  most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain IngólfrArnarson became the first permanent settler on the island.  Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Iceland's struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944. Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe.

In FIFA 2018, Croatia beat Iceland 2-1 to top Group D.  Two years on from their fairy-tale march to the knockout stages of the European Championship - and historic humiliation of England - Iceland failed to repeat the feat at the World Cup here.But there was no shame in falling short for the tournament’s smallest ever nation after what was a thrilling, see-saw climax to Group D that saw them thunderclapped from the field by their army of supporters.“We showed that we deserved to be here; we can compete with the best,” said manager HeimirHallgrímsson afterwards, proclaiming he “couldn’t be more proud of the players”.

In case, you are keen on knowing the squad :  Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari FreyrSkulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, SverrirIngiIngason, Hordur Magnusson, HolmarOrnEyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, BirkirBjarnason, ArnorIngviTraustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, OlafurIngiSkulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon DadiBodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson.  ~   Wondering why all the squad members' names end with sson or ssen? There are no surnames or family names in Iceland - Icelanders use the traditional Nordic naming system, which includes a last name that is comprised from their father's (or mother's) first name with the addition of -daughter or -son. Now you know.

The Iceland men's national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Iceland.   There are only 21,500 registered football players in Iceland, a country with a population of just 330,000. Iceland has based its football surge on building football 'houses" because of a climate which is tough, although not as harsh as many might imagine. There are 11 football houses at present, containing a full field, changing rooms, medical facilities, stands etcetc and some hold thousands of spectators. Iceland was hit hard by the global financial crisis six years ago, which put the brakes on constructing these houses.

The team has enjoyed success in the second half of the 2010s. In the qualifying rounds for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Iceland reached the playoffs before losing to Croatia. Iceland reached its first major tournament, UEFA Euro 2016, after a qualification campaign which included home and away wins over the Netherlands. In doing so, they became the smallest ever nation to qualify for a major tournament.

The unheralded squad includes 32-year-old goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson (featued above), a film director who directed the video for Iceland's entry in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Halldorsson starred in the initial 1-1 draw with Portugal, making eight saves and setting his team on a path to the knockout stage. Icelandic film studio SagaFilm has a job waiting for him when his football career is over.HeimirHallgrimsson works as a dentist as well as co-managing the team. He works on a five square-mile (13 sq km) island called Heimaey, where there are fewer than 5,000 people and millions of puffins.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th June 2018.

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