UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Breidablik making light of their underdog status

Having already upset the odds in this season's UEFA Europa League, Icelandic underdogs Breidablik must do so again to get past four-time Kazakh champions FC Aktobe.

Breidablik celebrate their first qualifying round win against Santa Coloma
Breidablik celebrate their first qualifying round win against Santa Coloma ©Breidablik

Breidablik poured scorn on their underdog status to emerge from the second qualifying round and will have to repeat that trick when they tackle FC Aktobe for a place in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.

Following a goalless first leg, Ólafur Kristjánsson's charges caused quite a stir when they stung SK Sturm Graz 1-0 in Austria. "I was exceptionally pleased with the result, but it took a while to sink in because it was such a tough match, which drained all the energy from me," said Kristjánsson, who has moulded a squad comprising several home-grown players into a cohesive force.

The opening instalment of Breidablik's third qualifying round tie with Aktobe will be their fifth continental outing this term, having accounted for FC Santa Coloma 4-0 on aggregate in early July. Their success has been founded on an obstinate backline, with 38-year-old goalkeeper Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson yet to concede in this season's competition.

"He does not get the credit he deserves. He has been superb for us and kept a number of clean sheets," said Kristjánsson. "He is also a great character. With every clean sheet, we improve our European record and give ourselves a better chance of winning games – this is not rocket science."

Ellert Hreinsson's third goal in four qualifying games eliminated Sturm and the striker is eager to explore uncharted territory. "I'm very much looking forward to the game in Kazakhstan. I have never been there before and didn't expect to, but this will be fun – to play in a game where we have to get a result," he said.

Fellow Icelandic outfit FH Hafnarfjördur succumbed 6-0 on aggregate against the same opposition in 2009 UEFA Champions League qualifying. It therefore comes as no great surprise that Kristjánsson has plumped for a game plan that hinges on strict organisation.

"The away fixture will be particularly tough. We will have to contend with different weather conditions, so I have adapted my philosophy accordingly. We change the way we play for European matches. There is a greater emphasis on being compact and keeping the game tight.

"We go to Kazakhstan as underdogs, you only need to look at the official rankings to know that. However, we have gathered plenty of information about them from their first and second qualifying round matches," added Kristjánsson.

"I have also been in discussion with the coach of the Norwegian team [Hødd], who played against Aktobe. He gave me some useful tips which I intend to utilise."

Selected for you