Bidding to reach the FIFA World Cup for the first time, Iceland must hold their nerve when they entertain Croatia in Friday's play-off first leg in Reykjavik.
Coach Lars Lagerbäck, an old-timer at this level having guided Sweden to five consecutive major tournaments, has no concerns over his players' temperaments, however. "The spirit has never been a problem with the players, so I don't need to worry about that at all," said the 65-year-old, who took charge of Nigeria for the 2010 World Cup. "They have always shown a very good, positive attitude. However, we must be realistic."
Iceland have every reason to believe they can get to next summer's finals after an eye-catching qualifying campaign which featured five victories and a remarkable 4-4 comeback draw with Group E winners Switzerland in Berne. Their hopes are unlikely to be dented by the adverse weather that has recently swept across the Nordic country.
"The weather is not an issue," Lagerbäck explained. "If it is bad, it will be bad for both teams. Most of the players are used to playing during the winter and in poor weather. If the wind is strong and there is rain and possibly snow, it will be difficult to play. Both teams will need to adapt, though."
Lagerbäck also implored his side to keep their cool, with eight players a booking away from missing the decider in Zagreb next Tuesday. "It's important we don't pick up any unnecessary bookings. We have done much better in recent games, picking up fewer cards. In the last three or four matches, we have shown good discipline which is obviously very pleasing. You can't hold back but I tell the players to remain calm in all situations and avoid silly tackles."
Croatia, meanwhile, are a different proposition under Niko Kovač, who took the reins from Igor Štimac last month. Indeed, Lagerbäck expects the visitors – whom he bills as favourites – to exhibit the traits that made Kovač a successful player. "They will be extremely focused and disciplined, similar to how their coach played," he said. "If you look at both teams on paper, Croatia are the favourites, but anything can happen on the pitch."