Iceland qualifies for Football World Cup 2018

Lionel Messi

The previous smallest country to have reached the finals was Trinidad & Tobago in 2006 (1.3m people) followed by Northern Ireland (1.85m), Slovenia (2.08m), Jamaica (2.89m) and Wales (3.1m).

Iceland got through to the quarter-final stage before their fairytale run was ended by hosts and beaten finalists France 5-2. And they finally booked a place in the World Cup, for the first time, after the second goal from Johann Gudmundsson in the second half of the match.

But he looked back to his best as he captained his country in their pivotal World Cup qualifier against Kosovo last night (October 9).

Iceland topped the group by two points, moving ahead of clear-favorite Croatia, leaving behind star-studded Ukraine which was third, Turkey at fourth and Finland at fifth.

They became the smallest nation to reach a major tournament at Euro 2016, where they defeated England in the last 16 before going out to France.


Both Iceland and Eygpt did the inevitable with wins over Kosovo and Congo to qualify for the all-important FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russian Federation.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain recorded their ninth win from 10 qualifying matches following a narrow 1-0 victory over Israel in Jerusalem courtesy of Asier Illarramendi's 25-yard half-volley. In my opinion we were in the most hard group with Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Finland.

Despite gleaning only a single point from their first ever qualifying campaign, Kosovo's coach Albert Bunjaki said Iceland's success could be an inspiration to his fledgling team.

Now, the World Cup in Russian Federation will also be graced by the popular northern Europeans and their colourful fans who started a clapping trend at the Euros that is sure to make its mark next year.

The winners of Groups A and B - set to be decided on Tuesday - will also directly qualify, while eight of the nine second-place teams are to face each other next month in a playoff to fill the four remaining European slots.

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