A youthful Breidablik side won their first Icelandic league title on Saturday despite being held to a goalless draw by Stjarnan. The Kopavogur club, who clinched their premier Icelandic Cup last year, pipped 2009 champions FH Hafnarfjördur on goal difference while ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar finished two points adrift after losing their final game.
Breidablik made a slow start to the campaign, taking just one point from two games but they quickly got into their stride. A run of four wins leading up to their final fixture took them top and they held off the challenge from ÍBV, who would have been champions if they had won on Saturday, and FH, whose late charge of six straight victories was in vain. "It's good to slip up once in a while," reflected Breidablik coach Ólafur Kristjánsson. "We did that [early on] and we came back stronger."
Cup final: FH Hafnarfjördur 4-0 KR Reykjavík
Since 2003, FH have won either the Cup or the league every year, and they maintained that record with a comfortable victory over KR in August. FH coach Heimir Gudjónsson was not entirely satisfied, however, saying: "We aimed to win the double so we're not pleased about the summer, even though we can take some positives out of it."
Breidablik – UEFA Champions League qualifying
FH Hafnarfjördur – UEFA Europa League qualifying
ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar – UEFA Europa League qualifying
KR Reykjavík – UEFA Europa League qualifying
*Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA
Suprise package: ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar
In the pre-season predictions, the coaches, captains and presidents of Iceland's top-flight clubs had ÍBV just avoiding relegation. Yet the team from the Vestmanna Islands surprised everyone and would have been champions for the first time since 1998 had they beaten, and not lost to Keflavík in the last game. Their team was built around local talent, including Tryggvi Gudmundsson who returned to his hometown club after 13 years in Norway, Sweden and England. The 36-year-old former Iceland striker was suspended against Keflavík and his presence was sorely missed.
Player of the Year: Alfred Finnbogason (Breidablik)
Finnbogason was already an influential figure when Breidablik won the Icelandic Cup in 2009, scooping the young player of the season award, and the 21-year-old continued his progression last term. He finished joint top scorer with FH's Atli Vidar Björnsson and Gilles Mbang Ondo of UMF Grindavík on 14 goals, as well as breaking into the Iceland team. The young forwad has attracted the attention of several foreign clubs, but is not getting carried away. "I do not know whether [a move abroad] will happen but of course I want to achieve as much as possible," Finnbogason said.
One to watch: Jón Gudni Fjóluson (Fram Reykjavík)
The tall, commanding defender came of age last season, playing 17 games and heading five goals. Two red cards tarnished an otherwise outstanding campaign for Fjóluson, who, like Finnbogason, was promoted from the Iceland Under-21s to the senior side.
Leading scorers: Gilles Mbang Ondo (Grindavík), Atli Vidar Björnsson (FH Hafnarfjördur), Alfred Finnbogason (Breidablik) 14
Gabon forward Ondo struck twice in the concluding 5-2 loss at relegated UMF Selfoss, earning the top-scorer prize having played one game fewer than Björnsson and Finnbogason.
Relegated: KF Haukar, UMF Selfoss
Promoted: Víkingur Reykjavík, Thór Akureyri
In the penultimate round of matches, some 27 goals were scored in six games. Newcomers Haukar and Selfoss both drew blanks, however,thus losing their respective plights to avoid relegation.
"The Champions League is next".
– Breidablik captain Kári Ársælsson is aiming high in 2011 after helping the club win the Icelandic Cup in 2009 and the league title in 2010.