Faroese outfit Víkingur have made history by reaching the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, but coach Sigfriður Clementsen is showing no signs of letting up.
His side poured scorn on their underdog status last week to advance, edging ten-man Tromsø IL 2-1 in Norway after a goalless first leg. HNK Rijeka – group stage contenders last season – are their next opponents, with the opening instalment in Torshavn on Thursday. "Although we're expecting a more difficult match, we're absolutely aiming to beat the Croatians for the chance to play at an even higher level," said Clementsen. "The players are able to walk on water at the moment, so we have every chance of accomplishing the task."
Clementsen is no stranger to footballing miracles, overseeing B36 Tórshavn's run to the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round in 2006. He ranks his latest feat on par with the Faroe Islands' 1-0 humbling of Austria in their first competitive international in 1990. "Faroese sides are getting good results away from home and now it seems we are slowly moving forward," he explained. "I'm incredibly proud of the players and what they've achieved. This is fantastic for Faroese football as a whole."
Chairman Brandur Jacobsen attributes Víkingur's rise to a potent blend of graft and ambition. "We always work hard on getting results, creating and writing history, and that's what we're doing at the moment," he said of a club only established in 2008 following the merger of GÍ Gøta and LÍF Leirvík. The fact that Víkingur is a municipality comprising a population of around 2,000 people "puts everything into perspective" according to Jacobsen.
The palpable feeling of euphoria currently permeating the side is epitomised by captain Atli Gregersen. "It was amazing to hear the supporters sing 'Fair Flower' [a Faroese anthem] as the players danced around the pitch," he beamed. "It was unreal, in fact, and I had to take a step away from it all before it sank in. It's impossible to put everything into words."
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