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'Fantastic' first for Faroe Islands

"It feels absolutely fantastic," Faroe Islands coach Jón Pauli Olsen said after getting through the preliminary round – the first time the nation has ever progressed in competition.

Heidi Sevdal (right) scored twice against Montenegro
Heidi Sevdal (right) scored twice against Montenegro ©Valdas Knyzelis

"It feels absolutely fantastic," Faroe Islands coach Jón Pauli Olsen said after they made progress from the FIFA Women's World Cup preliminary round – the first time one of their national teams have ever gone through a stage at any level.

In Vilnius for Group B in their maiden World Cup entry, they drew 3-3 with fellow debutants Montenegro, Heidi Sevdal equalising twice, before the Faroes beat hosts Lithuania 1-0 and Georgia 2-1 to win the section. They now await the qualifying group stage draw on Tuesday, where they will learn their five top-level opponents for a year of home and away games starting in September.

"We have trained for this for half a year," Olsen said. "It's absolutely fantastic that we have succeeded." He was confident after holding a strong Montenegro side. "Already after that match, we had high hopes of making progress," Olsen added.

In the third and decisive match against Georgia, where a draw was all his charges needed, the tactics were first and foremost to keep a clean sheet, the coach said. "And then we knew that over 90 minutes we would get our chances on the counterattack. And we did, so I think it went as planned."

Sevdal scored four of the Faroes' six goals – and made the other two – adding to her superb start to the domestic season where she has seven goals from two HB Tórshavn matches so far. Olsen described her as "a fantastic player" and went on: "We have been good at getting her in positions where she gets to run one-on-one against other players, and there she is extremely strong. I think she has played a fantastic tournament – together with many others."

Also standing out in the Faroe Islands team is the unique mother and daughter combination of Bára and Eydvør Klakstein. The 19-year-old Eydvør shone, named player of the match against Montenegro, and Olsen said: "She really made the breakthrough."

After Tuesday's draw, they will take on top-tier opposition for the first time, with Germany among their possible rivals. "You want to meet the big ones," Olsen said. "That's where it's best to be."

Heavy defeats will be taken in his stride. "If you want to play football at a high level, you'll have to take that," the coach explained. "But we will be doing our very best to get as good results as possible."

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