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Víkingur Ólafsvík's heady rise to Iceland's elite

Published: Tuesday 30 October 2012, 9.19CET
"If we were playing Barcelona tomorrow I believe we could win," said Víkingur Ólafsvík coach Ejub Purisevic after guiding his team from the third division into the top flight.
by Stefán Stefánsson
from Reykjavik
Víkingur Ólafsvík's heady rise to Iceland's elite
The Víkingur Olafsvik players celebrated their promotion by throwing coach Ejub Purisevic in the air ©Thórir Ó. Tryggvason
Published: Tuesday 30 October 2012, 9.19CET

Víkingur Ólafsvík's heady rise to Iceland's elite

"If we were playing Barcelona tomorrow I believe we could win," said Víkingur Ólafsvík coach Ejub Purisevic after guiding his team from the third division into the top flight.

Víkingur Ólafsvík were languishing in the third tier of Icelandic football in 2010 when Ejub Purisevic took charge, but now the club are preparing for a return to the top flight after remarkable back-to-back promotions.

Bosnian and Herzegovinian coach Purisevic has a good knowledge of Icelandic football and is confident that his side's incredible run will continue even though they are bound to face tougher opposition in the Icelandic Premier League.

"I am always optimistic – if we were playing Barcelona tomorrow, I believe we could win, until proven otherwise," said the 44-year-old, who played for HK Kópavogur, was player-coach at Sindri and guided Valur Reykjavík to the title in 2000. "I will not make any big predictions for the new season, we will just try to maintain our place in the top division.

"We will lose some players and some new ones will join but we will try to build a team that will survive," he added. "We know it will be difficult as newcomers but it will help to have proper facilities and over the winter we will train in small indoor halls and on mini-pitches."

The club are based in Olafsvik, a small fishing town of just over 1,000 inhabitants on the west coast of Iceland, so the rise in interest as Purisevic's charges have climbed the league ladder has not gone unnoticed. "In recent years people in Olafsvik have sat up and taken notice of the team," said Purisevic.

"Many thought it was all over when we lost our place in the second tier but with our success the belief came back. Some people can't believe it – one person told me he will only think it's real after kick-off in our first game in the top division."

Víkingur Ólafsvík also became the first third-tier side to contest the semi-finals of the Icelandic Cup under Purisevic in 2010. It was a feat, among others, that Purisevic puts down to desire and a good attitude throughout the club.

"I really like watching my young players improve and be successful, that is what it's all about," he said. "If you want success you have to give everything you've got and I think I do that. The same goes for the players and everybody working for the club – they have to have an understanding and trust their coach."

Last updated: 31/10/12 0.10CET

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