Hallgrimsson expects Iceland to beat Nigeria
Iceland will take a major step to the second round with victory over Nigeria.
Bullish Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson insists he expects nothing less than victory against Nigeria.
Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their opening game and could take a giant leap to the knockout stages with victory against the Super Eagles in Group D.
Iceland are the smallest nation ever to play in the World Cup and after an impressive point against Argentina – where Hannes Halldorsson saved a Lionel Messi penalty – Hallgrimsson is confident.
Just arrived in Volgograd, well prepared after watching England’s game pic.twitter.com/gKKj9crgq2— Alfreð Finnbogason (@A_Finnbogason) June 20, 2018
He told a press conference ahead of the game at the Volgograd Arena on Friday: “We expect to win. We have rotated the team a lot during qualification and we are not afraid, we will not change our plans of what we have decided to do before today’s game.
“We take meetings where we talk about how we can progress, what we should do as a team.
“Everyone is on board, no-one is trying to be bigger than the next guy and that is why this side is getting results above their individual quality.
“The collective value is higher than the individual value so I think that is the strength of the squad.
“No-one is trying to take the spotlight for themselves and they normally give the other guys around them the credit and I think that is rare in football today.”
While Hallgrimsson is optimistic, Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles remain underdogs ahead of the game.
They lost 2-0 to Denmark in their opening game and another defeat is likely to spell the end of their World Cup.
Nigeria wrap up their Group D campaign against Argentina on Tuesday.
Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and Blues winger Victor Moses are the two highest profile members of the squad, which also includes Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi.
“Why we don’t have star players? It’s because we are the youngest team of the World Cup,” Rohr told a press conference.
“We have Obi Mikel, who is a very good player, you can tell that he is a star, we have Victor Moses who is well known everywhere but we have so many young players, they will be stars, I hope so, tomorrow.
“What we have is a team for 2022, because when you are so young, with the goalkeeper and all the other people, they will be better and better.
“We are in the top 50 in the world, Iceland is in the top 20 (22), Croatia is in the top 12 (20) and Argentina in the top eight.
“When I see that the matches are so difficult and the scores are so close, we have to learn also, it is not finished after this World Cup for us.
“We want to improve, we want to learn. When you are the youngest, it is not possible, perhaps, to be the best already.”
Coming Soon: Independent.ie's new GAA newsletter. Sign up here