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Iceland kicked off UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying on 19 May 2011 with a 6-0 win against Bulgaria. They visit Oslo exactly 16 months later on Wednesday in the match that will decide the last automatic finalists.
In September last year, Iceland beat Norway 3-1 to set the tone for a tight race in Group 3. Both Belgilum and Northern Ireland ran the top two seeds close but at Oslo's Ullevaal Stadion the equation is now clear: Iceland, a point ahead, will finish first by avoiding defeat otherwise it will be two-time champions Norway who secure a finals place and avoid taking part in next month's play-offs.
Norway have never failed to qualify for the European finals, and ended Iceland's debut appearance in 2009 with a 1-0 group win on their way to the last four. They also knocked them out in the 2005 play-offs and attacker Leni Larsen Kaurin knows a positive approach is Norway's only option.
"This will be like a cup game for us," she told UEFA.com. "We have nothing to lose now. We just have to be offensive and go for goals. I hope the crowd can help us and maybe some more people will come and watch the game, because this is 'all or nothing'. If we don't win, then we have to play in the play-offs, and we don't want to do that."
Goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth added: "We will face a very good team. We lost 3-1 in Iceland last autumn, but I think we have improved a lot since then, so it will be a tight game, but hopefully we'll win and make it to Sweden without going to the play-offs."
Playmaker Solveig Gulbrandsen, a hat-trick scorer against Iceland in the 2005 play-offs, has come out of international retirement to bolster the Norway squad, coming off the bench after the break in Saturday's crucial 3-2 defeat of Belgium. Meanwhile, Iceland's biggest name Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir was only a substitute in their 2-0 win against Northern Ireland due to recent injury problems but could start on Wednesday.
Iceland coach Siggi Eyjolfsson, who began with league top scorer Elín Metta Jensdóttir instead of Vidarsdóttir at the weekend, said: "Some of my players had minor injuries and some of my players already had yellow cards so I made some substitutions. I am sure these players will recover for the game against Norway and no players will be on a ban so we are ready."
Midfielder Edda Gardarsdóttir was one of those players replaced and said: "I sprained my hip. I will have some treatment but it is absolutely clear I will be hammering on my physio's door so he can get me ready."
The Iceland right-back, Sif Atladóttir, added: "We are very much looking forward to this game, you live to play in such matches. Even though a draw is enough for us we are going out to win the game and the group. We have not forgotten losing against Norway in the last finals in 2009 and want revenge."
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