"It feels like we are still up in the sky," said Stjarnan coach Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson after returning to Iceland to learn his side will face FC Internazionale Milano next.
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"It feels like we are still up in the sky," beamed coach Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson after touching down to discover that FC Internazionale Milano awaited his Stjarnan side in the play-offs.
The lowest-ranked team left in Europe this season, the Icelandic outfit achieved a significant coup by eliminating KKS Lech Poznań with a 0-0 draw in Poland on Thursday night, but the club from Gardabaer – most famous as the home of children's television programme LazyTown – had even more to celebrate as they landed back at home this afternoon to learn that they will welcome three-time European Cup and UEFA Cup winners Inter in their next European tie.
"We heard the news at touchdown and celebrated like crazy," Sigmundsson said. "We are still getting our focus back after last night's result. It's lucky to get to meet such a big club – big for everybody in Stjarnan and very exciting."
Stjarnan have made it through three rounds already, knocking out Wales's Bangor City FC and Scotland's Motherwell FC before accounting for Lech, with confidence building still. "Many gave us no chance against the clubs we have played so far, and that will not change [against Inter]," noted Sigmundsson. "They will put us under serious pressure, as all the other clubs have, but we can make it tough for them. It is not easy for any club to play against a disciplined and well-organised defence, but of course Inter could also win by a big margin."
Striker Veigar Páll Gunnarsson is already dreaming of the second leg in Milan. "This has been an insane experience for us and now we are going to play at San Siro," the 34-year-old former international said. "The team spirit will be great. We wanted either a big club or a club like Sheriff from Moldova to give us a little bit more chance of going further. To play with Stjarnan, my boyhood club, against a team [like Inter] is a dream come true.
"We have to believe there is always a chance," added the one-time AS Nancy-Lorraine and Vålerenga Fotball player. "There is a good feeling around the club. We are not going there to play beautiful football, but we will be disciplined and organised in defence, and maybe we can be lucky and score a goal like we did against Lech. We believe in ourselves."
Inter captain turned vice-president Javier Zanetti greeted the prospect of a trip to Iceland with good cheer as he spoke at the draw in Nyon. "I was making my debut as Inter director in a draw, and I'm happy," he said. "We care a lot about this competition and we want to go all the way. We won't underestimate anybody because all teams are dangerous in Europe. Our opponents have already played three rounds so they are obviously in better shape than us."