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Iceland take positives from Abu Dhabi trip

First senior goals for Arnór Ingvi Traustason and Vidar Orn Kjartansson were among "many positive points" for Heimir Hallgrímsson after Iceland's two friendlies in Abu Dhabi.

Vidar Orn Kjartansson scored his first Iceland goal in Abu Dhabi
Vidar Orn Kjartansson scored his first Iceland goal in Abu Dhabi ©Getty Images

Co-coach Heimir Hallgrímsson picked up on "many positive points" as Iceland tested some fringe options in a pair of friendly games in the United Arab Emirates.

Nörrkoping midfielder Arnór Ingvi Traustason scored his first international goal after 17 minutes as Iceland earned a 1-0 win against Finland in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday 13 January. Juangsu Sainty's Vidar Orn Kjartansson also found the target for the first time for his country three days later, though Iceland went on to lose that game 2-1 with Ismail Alhammadi and Ali Mabkhout turning the game round for the UAE.

"The main task for these games was to give players a chance and try to increase the number of options for the finals," explained co-coach Heimir Hallgrímsson, he and Lars Lågerback having drawn the bulk of their 23-man playing squad from the leagues in Scandinavia, Russia and China. "We did that, and beating Finland was a bonus."

Arnor Ingvi Traustason scored against Finland
Arnor Ingvi Traustason scored against Finland©Getty Images

Eidur Gudjohnsen captained the team in both games, and the only member of the party who did not get a game was 40-year-old goalkeeper Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson. Most of the players used had some senior team experience, with plenty of members of the Iceland Under-21 side – who play an identical system to the senior team – slotting in.

"A lot of the players have never played together and some have only a few caps, but I still got the feeling everybody was clear about their roles, and even if our attack was not so good, the defence was," Hallgrímsson added. "We managed to use a lot of players so there are many positive points here, especially having the chance to meet the boys and work with them."

"This was a good test for us – we have seen some new players and they have some solid experience to call on," added Lågerback. Fylkir midfielder Andrés Már Jóhannesson, who set up Kjartansson's goal on his international debut against Finland, added: "It was great to play with these guys and the senior team, and also great to get an assist in my first game."

Senior debuts: Haraldur Björnsson, Gardar Gunnlaugsson, Andrés Már Jóhannesson, Emil Pálsson.