Being the smallest nation to get qualified for the WC, Iceland topped the Europe Group 1, leaving behind Croatia, Ukrain, Turkey and Finland.
With a population of just 334,252 people, now Iceland shatters all records to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018, for the first time after beating Kosovo 2-0 at home. Being the smallest nation to get qualified for international football’s biggest event, Iceland topped the Europe Group 1, to book a place for the final show in Russia, next year. With ‘Strákarnir okkar’s qualification at the top position of the group, one of Europe’s favorite, Croatia could just manage its place at the second spot at the Group, even after defeating Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev.
Earlier, Paraguay held a similar record to get qualified for the 1930 World Cup, with an estimated population of 850,000 and later in 2005, Trinidad and Tobago broke the record, becoming the smallest nation with a population just over 1.2 million, to get qualified for the 2005 World Cup. However, Iceland now stands as the smallest nation ever to have qualified for the FIFA World Cup.
Smallest nations by population to reach a World Cup:
Iceland – 335k
N. Ireland – 1.85m
Slovenia – 2.08m
Wales – 3.1m
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— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) October 10, 2017
Keeping up its good form from the momentum it picked up when the team made it to the 2016 European Championship quarter-finals, Iceland led the first half of the qualifying match against Kosovo with a goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson. 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.
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. Having defeated 2-0 by Iceland, Kosovo could just bag a single point in their maiden attempt to qualify for the international event.
Sigurdsson, who scored the first goal for the team, in their last Group match against Kosovo, is Iceland’s biggest star who signed for Everton with a reported transfer fee of 40 million pounds. However, an overall team effort, from Icelandic players who started their carrier with a variety of small European clubs, helped the team to mark a place in the history.