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Iceland out to emulate 2011 success

Published: Wednesday 5 October 2011, 14.00CET
A new look Iceland squad are hoping to emulate the success of their predecessors as they prepare to take on England in UEFA European Under-21 qualifying Group 8.
Iceland out to emulate 2011 success
Eyjólfur Sverrisson is hoping his Iceland side can make it to Israel in 2013 ©Getty Images
 

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Published: Wednesday 5 October 2011, 14.00CET

Iceland out to emulate 2011 success

A new look Iceland squad are hoping to emulate the success of their predecessors as they prepare to take on England in UEFA European Under-21 qualifying Group 8.

With just three players remaining from the squad that competed in Denmark this summer, Iceland coach Eyjólfur Sverrisson was coy about his side's chances of emulating the success of their predecessors ahead of the visit of England in UEFA European Under-21 qualifying Group 8.

Goalkeeper Arnar Pétursson, who has established himself as No1, and defenders Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson and Thórarinn Valdimarsson are the only surviving members of the squad that lost out on a semi-final spot to Belarus on goal difference in June.

Influential players such as former captain Bjarni Vidarsson, defender Eggert Jónsson and AFC Ajax's Kolbeinn Sigthórsson have moved on, leaving a strong domestic element to the group – with just four players currently plying their trade outside Iceland.

"We have to get better and we are always working to improve," said Sverrisson, whose team beat Belgium 2-1 in their opening qualifier before a 2-0 defeat by Norway, also at home. "After two games we cannot say how good this squad will be. We are still putting the side together but know we are not as strong yet as we were before."

Iceland welcome to Reykjavik an England team whom they beat 2-1 in a March friendly thanks to goals from Eyjólfsson and Arnór Smárason. There are likely to be a host of fresh faces with highly rated forwards Björn Jónsson and Kristinn Steindórsson as well as AGF Århus midfielder Aron Jóhannsson posing a potent goal threat.

However, Sverrisson is under no illusions about the quality of the opposition. "I know we are up against a very strong side who will trouble all the teams in the group, but we will do our best and we are ready," he said. "The group battle has just begun. We will give all we've got in every game and see where that takes us."

Last updated: 03/12/12 20.03CET

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