Gudmundsson believes Iceland can keep surprising

Iceland may be facing a tough test in Group A at the finals, but coach Gunnar Gudmundsson insists his team believe they can upset the likes of France and Germany.

Gunnar Gudmundsson's Iceland side hope to spring a surprise in Slovenia
©Stuart Wallace

Iceland pipped last season's semi-finalists Denmark to top elite round Group 6 and qualify for next month's UEFA European Under-17 Championship, but coach Gunnar Gudmundsson is hopeful that is just the start. Pitted alongside France, Georgia and 2011 runners-up Germany in Group A of the Slovenia finals, Gudmundsson is relishing the chance to upset the odds once more. What are your first impressions after the draw?

Gunnar Gudmundsson: A very strong group. We know that France and Germany are very strong, and Georgia, winning the group with Spain, England and Ukraine, tells us all we need to know about them. Not many people outside of Iceland thought that you would finish above Denmark and Sweden – how did you manage that?

Gudmundsson: It was our aim to get all the way. We [beat] Denmark in the Nordic Cup also, so we were pretty confident when we came to Scotland and we did well there. It was a tough group, and very even, but we reached our goal, so we were happy about that. What was the feeling like when you found out that you were going to the European Championship?

Gudmundsson: It was a great feeling. But still, I think a few days later you start to understand what you have achieved, so the feeling two or three days later was even better. What do you think you can achieve in Slovenia?

Gudmundsson: After the tournament in Scotland the boys already set a new aim, and we want to get into the four best teams in Europe. So that's our aim. It's going to be tough, and we need to have a bit of luck with us, but still we believe. We have a strong team, a good team spirit, and hopefully we will reach our goal again. Iceland is a very small country yet with boys and girls, in these young categories, you always perform extremely well – can you reveal the secret?

Gudmundsson: We have very good coach education in Iceland, and the mentality of the kids is very good. They are willing to train a lot and from maybe five, six years old until 15, we train more than other countries. But after that, because we don't have professional football, it gets tougher, so you have to go abroad to get better. That's still our problem, that we don't have professional football, but good coaches, good coach education and good mentality from the players is the main thing.