The Iceland National Football Team has made history with their 2-0 win over Kosovo today, becoming the smallest country ever to qualify for the World Cup. Not only did they qualify, but they punched their ticket in dominant fashion by winning their UEFA group. That was no small feat in a group that featured Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine.
This shatters the previous record holders. According to SB Nation, Paraguay‘s population was just 850,000 when they were invited to the 1930 World Cup, and Trinidad and Tobago was 1.2 million when they qualified for the 2006 World Cup. Iceland’s population stands at 334,000.
More from the SB Nation article:
“It’s possible that no other country takes training soccer players as seriously as Iceland. The country has over 20,000 registered soccer players, or 5 percent of all Icelandic people. One in 500 Icelanders has a UEFA B license or higher, meaning some players start training under professional coaches as 5-year-olds.”
Seems like the United States could learn a thing or two on how to develop a competitive roster.
Iceland wasted no time becoming the darlings of the first major tournament they ever qualified for. In the 2016 Euros, they drew with Portugal and Hungary before beating Austria to advance to the knockout stages. It set up a huge match with England in which they came from down a goal to win 2-1. The entire world were introduced to a team that plays together and has surprising depth. They are absolutely a threat to advance past the group stages in 2018.
That could set up more of this:
We’re behind the USMNT all the way, but it will be hard not to root for these guys as well.