After holding onto second spot in Group E and securing a play-off place with a 1-1 draw in Norway, Iceland coach Lars Lagerbäck and captain Aron Gunnarsson were thrilled at the prospect of a two-legged tie to take the country to a first-ever FIFA World Cup. "I could not see this coming when I started the job," said Swede Lagerbäck, who could face his home nation in the play-offs though he was unwilling to say who he would prefer to be drawn against. "We are very proud," added Gunnarsson.
Lars Lagerbäck, Iceland coach
Of course I could not see this coming when I began training the team but we talked to the players in January when we started this journey. We had a realistic chance to make the top two and you never know in football – but this has gone better and better.
We created chances but our defence were really good, especially in the second half. It was a bit dangerous for us first half because we did not play like we should – we were a bit far away from each other – but we tried to correct that and it got better. The team worked very well all game and if you have players prepared to help each other in all situations, that is fantastic.
I do not have any particular opponent I want to meet in the play-offs. We are still trying to figure out which teams are there. I do not think there is that much difference between the play-off teams so we will take what we get, then we will really start to prepare and hope we can maybe come up with more surprises. If we get to the World Cup final my contract is extended for half a year. It is better if we win the play-offs, then I will be in the job for another six months.
Aron Gunnarsson, Iceland midfielder
We did what we had to do – whether we believed we could or not – but this was great and we are really proud. I cannot descibe the feeling right now.
We began badly and did not play our usual way [against Norway], like everybody probably saw. We have to learn from that, but it was enough. The Norwegian team are good and can play good football even though their situtation in the group is not that great. So taking four points from them in the group is a great achievement.
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