Iceland's tale of the unexpected

Power and stamina helped Iceland win all four of their Group 10 games, though coach Eyjólfur Sverrisson "did not expect" to go into a meeting with France top of the qualifying section.

Hördur Magnússon is among the stars of a new generation of Iceland Under-21 players
Hördur Magnússon is among the stars of a new generation of Iceland Under-21 players ©KSÍ

"I have to say, I did not expect us to be top of the group, but the team has clicked very well together," said Iceland coach Eyjólfur Sverrisson as he enjoyed the view from the top of UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 10.

A 2-0 home win against Kazakhstan on Thursday left Iceland with a 100% record after four games, as they look ahead to a meeting with France in Reykjavik on Monday. It is early days, but Sverrisson's side could yet be on course for a trip to the final tournament in the Czech Republic in 2015, having made their debut in Denmark two years ago.

"We have put together a new team since the last finals and all the players are of a similar standard, meaning none of them are better than the others," explained former Beşiktaş JK and Hertha BSC Berlin midfielder Sverrisson.

"The strength is the whole team – every player. We have good pace and keep running for the full game so we can play powerful football, in defence and going forward. After only one friendly game and a few training sessions we knew how to put the team together."

KR Reykjavík midfielder Emil Atlason has been Iceland's scorer-in-chief so far with seven goals in four appearances, with other key performers including Viking FK's Jón Dadi Bödvarsson and Juventus defender Hordur Magnússon, on loan in Serie B with Spezia Calcio. However, Iceland will really know if they have what it takes to make the finals after Monday's meeting with France.

"Maybe the power in our game has been the most helpful thing in getting results so far, because we have beaten all of the other teams," said Sverrisson. "We know the game against France will be a difficult one – they are a very good team that have also won all of their [three] games. That will be a good challenge, but after our wins confidence is up. The boys know that we have to play to our strengths, and if they do that, things could be great."