Fresh from a 3-0 win in Belfast, Iceland are hoping to end a 60-year wait for a first victory over their one-time colonial overlords, Denmark.
In the 62 years since Iceland was handed complete independence from the kingdom of Denmark, the two nations have met 18 times. The statistics from those games hardly make pleasant reading for Icelandic football followers - they have drawn four and lost 14. However, after starting their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign with a startling Group F success against Northern Ireland, there is a feeling it could be 19th-time lucky as Morten Olsen's men make their way to the Laugardalsvöllur stadium tonight.
"We did not say we were going to win in Belfast but I believed we could get a good result and 3-0 is more than I expected," said FC Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen of Saturday's qualifier. "There is always a bit of luck involved, so in the second half we dropped back to hold on to what we had." Gudjohnsen needs one goal for 18 at international level, which would make him Iceland's all-time leading scorer.
Earlier in 2006, Iceland lost a friendly 2-0 against Trinidad and Tobago, but a 0-0 draw against Spain in August and the result in Belfast have raised morale. "This game has given us more confidence and the squad is looking forward to the Denmark match," said Gudjohnsen. "The nation is behind us. I can only say: Go Iceland!" Icelanders have tended to make light of their previous encounters with Denmark - what else can you do when they include results like a 14-2 loss to the Danes in December 1967? Their most recent meeting in 2001 was equally bruising - a 6-0 reverse.
Despite collecting just a win and a draw from 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification - both against Malta - the country of 300,000 people sees the chance of a first success against Denmark some 60 years after the sides first faced each other across a pitch. Defender Hermann Hreidarsson was certainly hoping to make history in the wake of Iceland's weekend triumph. "We can afford to celebrate for a short while, then we must prepare for Denmark and there something will happen," he said. "We have to get revenge."
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