Last August Siggi Eyjólfsson did what no one had ever done before and took Iceland to a senior European final tournament. They lost all three of their UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ matches in Finland, but Iceland are now among the leading nations in the game and in 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying they have won three out of four, losing only to France, who visit Reykjavik for a likely group decider in August. Eyjólfsson has a perfect record in home competitive games since taking charge at the start of 2007. The 36-year-old spoke to uefa.com about a hectic year and his plans to maintain their success.
uefa.com: Have you had time to reflect on the finals?
Siggi Eyjólfsson: We've looked at the games again and as far as our performances go we're pleased with the tournament. It gave us the answer to where we stand today and what we need to improve, such as our attacking. We defended well but need more skilful, creative players with flair – we need to work on that with the current squad and also the young players coming up. It's good for our national youth teams and their coaches to keep developing that. The future is bright for Iceland. Our [Women's] Under-19s qualified for their finals in Belarus so hopefully we'll get those creative players to come up and hopefully we can also improve as a team to attack better against strong teams.
uefa.com: Iceland's EURO run attracted big crowds and television audiences at home; can you maintain the momentum?
Eyjólfsson: It relies on us continuing to win games but it's been amazing to follow the team for the last three years. The attendances for home games, the TV interest, the role models that we now have playing for Iceland; it's been great to be a part of it and I think it will keep improving. Now we're trying to use the success we've had with the team to get more girls playing football so we've gone to visit schools because we only have about 5,000 players of all ages in Iceland, not a huge pool to select from. We need to really improve those numbers and we can use the success of the national team to do that.
uefa.com: How is the World Cup campaign going?
Eyjólfsson: We played really well against Serbia and Estonia, but looked tired against France. We had four key players missing through injury and that's difficult to cope with; we need more depth in the squad. We don't have it at the moment but we'll keep developing our players and give them a chance to play so they can improve. Although we lost to France we don't think it's over yet as we still have to play them in Iceland and we have won all our matches in Iceland [under me] and haven't conceded a goal – we have a good chance next summer.
But we obviously need to win all the other games and there are some tough ones left. Northern Ireland gave us a scare. I felt my team looked tired mentally and physically at the end of the year. We have played more internationals this year than ever before – 14 games – and about ten of my players turned professional this year so it's a big adjustment.
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