Hey These Iceland Women Are Pretty Dang Good Too
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Iceland became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the Men’s World Cup earlier this month. The Iceland women’s national team is trying to follow suit. Iceland stunned Germany, the top-ranked team in Europe, 3-2 in UEFA qualifying for the 2019 World Cup on Friday in Wiesbaden, the first World Cup qualifying loss for the two-time world champions since 1998.
Germany had won 27 straight World Cup qualifiers and had one draw in its last 61 such matches since a loss to Norway in 1998. But two goals from Dagný Brynjarsdóttir and another from Elín Jensen propelled Stelpurnar okkar (Our Girls in Icelandic) past Die Nationalelf, creating a three-way tie atop Group 5.
— #FIFAWWC (@FIFAWWC) October 20, 2017
Iceland, Germany and Czech Republic are all tied with six points in Group 5. The Czech Republic currently has claim on the top spot on goal differential (plus-11) followed by Iceland (plus-nine) and Germany (plus-six), but both the Czechs and the Germans have played three matches compared to two for Iceland. Germany beat the Czech Republic 1-0 in September. The other two teams in the group are winless Slovenia and Faroe Islands, who have a combined minus-26 goal differential without a win or even a goal scored thus far.
The top team in seven UEFA groups qualify for the 2019 World Cup, to be hosted by France. The four best runners-up will face playoffs for the final two berths from UEFA.
Brynjarsdóttir put Iceland up 1-0 in the 15th minute before they were pegged back by Alexandra Popp’s equalizer late in the first half. But two minutes into the second half Jensen put Iceland back on top and Brynjarsdóttir made it 3-1 in the 58th minute. A late strike from Lea Schüller in the 88th minute was too little too late for Germany.
The Iceland women’s national team spoiled a day in which German great Anja Mittag was honored before the match. Mittag, who scored 50 goals in 158 appearances with Die Nationalelf, won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics for Germany but retired from international duty after the 2017 Euros. The 2017 Euros were the first time Germany failed to win the competition since 1993, a run of six straight titles.
— DFB-Frauenfußball (@DFB_Frauen) October 20, 2017
Iceland, ranked No. 21 in the world, lost all three of its matches at the recent Euros but based on Friday’s performance they’ll be a team to watch as we move closer to the 2019 World Cup. Those Iceland men have received plenty of headlines for reaching their first World Cup and it’d be great if we could see the Viking chant at the Women’s World Cup too after its appearance at the 2017 Women’s Euros.