Iceland coach Siggi Eyjólfsson and his Norway counterpart Bjarne Berntsen have vowed not to compromise their normal playing style when the teams meet for their second match of UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ despite knowing defeat could spell elimination from the competition.
Both lost on Matchday 1 – Iceland 3-1 to France, while Norway were beaten 4-0 by Germany – and any repeat in Lahti on Thursday, coupled with a certain outcome in the other Group B game, could mean an early trip home. With head-to-head results serving as the first tie-breaker in the group stage, those setbacks mean that defeat for Iceland, combined with a victory for Germany against France, would ensure the debutants finish fourth in the section. Likewise, a loss for Norway, allied with a French triumph, would leave Berntsen's charges unable to climb off bottom spot.
Eyjólfsson, who at 35 is the youngest coach at the finals, told uefa.com: "We look at the match as a very important one of course. We need to win to proceed in the competition so we will do everything we can, but that's how we approach every game and we'll do the same against Germany [on Matchday 3]."
Berntsen echoed the thoughts of his opposite number, saying: "It's a normal game and we know we have a fight on our hands. We are not thinking about what might happen if we lose, we are just concentrating on how we will play in order to have the best chance of beating Iceland."
Iceland's only victory against their Nordic rivals in six meetings came in March when they registered a 3-1 win in the annual Algarve Cup. While acknowledging that the triumph showed they can overcome their opponents "on a good day", Eyjólfsson is aware his team start as underdogs. "We know Norway are a very good team and when we played them in March it was a tough game," he said of the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ runners-up. "They have a lot of history in women's football so everything needs to really click together for us to be able to beat such a strong team."
Berntsen described that setback as "a wake-up call" and has warned his players to be on their guard, particularly against Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir, the 12-goal top scorer in qualifying. "The game in March was the first time since 2004 that we had played them and they have made enormous improvements in their game since, especially in attack. They are more dangerous than before."
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