Iceland Camp Focus – Icelanders hope to leave Denmark on a high note

Nothing is going right for Iceland in the Under-21s European Championships. The proportion at which the sanguinity and spirit around the team, and the huge number of traveling fans diminishing, resembles the Icelandic economic status since the fall of 2008. Today, at Aalborg, the Iceland youngsters – in what could be their last match of the competition – are up against a hungry Denmark side, who are aware that a win will most probably take them to the semi-finals and an automatic qualification spot for the London Olympics. With two identical losses, without scoring in any matches in the kitty, the Icelanders’ chance of progressing remains only in some unlikely permutations.

Not just for a team coming from a loss and with a starting line-up minus two key players, it was one of the most dreadful of starts that Iceland got off to in the last match against Switzerland. When Fabian Frei signaled the start of an torrid evening for Iceland with a sweet first time finish by latching onto a delightful Xherdan Shaqiri pass, the clock was showing a mere 58 seconds. The team, playing for the first time in the finals of the competition, failed in producing any attacking intent or mental steel which was the hallmark of their historic qualification. Goalkeeper Haraldur Bjornsson displayed some resistance with two quality saves before Innocent Emeghara overcame him with a left foot shot to make it 2-0.

Iceland looked mentally drained in the latter stages of the match. They certainly missed Aron Gunnarsson, who was suspended, and the injured striker Johann Gudmundsson. But Captain Bjarni Vidarsson felt the team also lacked intent. He said: “Both of them are brilliant players, and we have some good players on the bench but that didn’t matter much today as we were not ready at all.” But he was optimistic on the last match; “we still have a faint hope and have to beat Denmark heavily. We won’t leave Denmark without scoring a goal or getting a point so we will give everything.”

Gunnarsson, and possibly Gudmundsson, will be making a comeback today which means five players featured for the senior side when they met Denmark in the EURO 2012 qualifier on June 4, in which they lost by two late goals, are available for selection today. Iceland can go through only if they win at least by three goals and Belarus overcome Switzerland by three goals or more.

It has been reported that Iceland is maintaining team discipline with a tour fine system in place where the players make small contributions to a children’s cancer charity fund if they are considered guilty of any improper conduct. Coach Eyj

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