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England not too big for tiny Iceland, says joint coach

23   //    23 Jun 2016, 01:28 IST
Football Soccer - Iceland v Hungary - EURO 2016 - Group F - Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France - 18/6/16 Iceland joint coaches Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Football Soccer - Iceland v Hungary - EURO 2016 - Group F - Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France - 18/6/16Iceland joint coaches Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars LagerbackREUTERS/Eddie Keogh

By Matt Smith

PARIS (Reuters) - Iceland do not fear facing England at Euro 2016 joint coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said on Wednesday after his indefatigable players beat Austria 2-1 to book a place in the last 16.

The Icelanders finished on five points in Group F behind Hungary on goal difference to set up an encounter with Roy Hodgson's team in Nice on Monday.

“I’m not afraid of the England match,” Hallgrimsson told a news conference after midfielder Arnor Traustason had scored with the last kick of the game to beat Austria.

“Icelanders know everything about English football. We have to have our best game but we know that even though Iceland can have the best performance we’ve ever had, we can still lose against nations like England.”

Iceland were trounced 6-1 by England in 2004 in the nations’ only previous meeting, although the islanders have improved beyond recognition since then.

Man of the match Kari Arnason, who set up Jon Bodvarsson for their 18th minute opener with a flicked header, also welcomed the opportunity to play against Wayne Rooney's men.

“I have always supported England in the big international tournaments when we haven’t been playing,” said the 33-year-old former Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United midfielder.

“It’s a dream come true. We will go into this game with full force to get a result. We believe in our ability.”

Tournament debutantes Iceland are unbeaten, having drawn 1-1 against Portugal and Hungary in their first two group matches, and their players stayed on the pitch long after the final whistle to soak up the adulation of their ecstatic fans.

“The supporters were fantastic tonight,” added Hallgrimsson, who is in joint charge of the national team alongside former Sweden coach Lars Lagerback.

“If we can show these values on the pitch I think every Icelander is happy with the team, no matter the result. The only thing you can do is give your best.”

(Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Ken Ferris)

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