"I dreamt we would meet them next," said Bjarni Gudjónsson, captain of Icelandic Premier League leaders KR Reykjavík after they were paired with serial giant killers BÍ/Bolungarvík in the Icelandic Cup semi-finals. "And woke up in a cold sweat," added his father Gudjón Thórdarson, who will lead the tiny side from the West Fjords in the unusual dad-versus-lad tie in late July.
BÍ/Bolungarvík have already eliminated league champions Breidablik and Thróttur Reykjavík and, as Thórdarson explained, the second-division outfit are enjoying their run: "
I have made the players realise that the cup is a special project where you don't get a second chance, not like the league where you can slide a bit and hope for better luck in the next game."
Founded from the merger of BÍ (based in the town of Isafjordur, population: 5,000) and Bolungarvík (located in a fishing village of around 900 inhabitants) in 2006, Thórdarson's team hardly hail from a footballing hotbed. No club from the West Fjords have reached the cup semi-finals since ÍBÍ in 1960, while Iceland's mountainous north-west last boasted a top-flight side in 1994.
That may not be the case for long. Since their formation, BÍ/Bolungarvík have scampered rapidly from the fourth tier of the Icelandic pyramid to the second level. The acquisition of Thórdarson for this season further raised their horizons; the 55-year-old former ÍA Akranes defender won nine Icelandic Cups and nine Úrvalsdeild titles as a player and coach.
"In a perfect world I would like to have met them in the final," admitted 32-year-old KR captain Gudjónsson. "I have seen only one BÍ/Bolungarvík match but we know their game plan – tight at the back and dangerous from set pieces, with great physical shape and fighting spirit. Then again, we are determined to win the cup and will throw everything at them."
Dead-ball situations are something of a BÍ/Bolungarvík hallmark. English midfielder Nicholas Deverdics – who once played in the Scottish top flight with Gretna FC – scored two direct free-kicks against Thróttur, with Thórdarson concluding: "Clearly he tied his laces right because they were fine goals. We practise a lot because I know how important set plays are."
A set piece of a different sort will precede the semi-final, with father and son planning to sit down for a family meal before kick-off. "We will enjoy ourselves but then he will get butterflies and start preparing for the game," said Thórdarson, who lifted Icelandic Cups as KR coach in 1994 and 1995. "It is a remarkable game in many ways since I have a history with KR, as well as my son being their captain. It just shows what an amazing sport football is."
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