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Our best game is yet to come, says Iceland coach

17   //    28 Jun 2016, 04:36 IST
Football Soccer - England v Iceland - EURO 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 27/6/16 Iceland joint head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson REUTERS/Yves Herman Livepic
Football Soccer - England v Iceland - EURO 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 27/6/16Iceland joint head coach Heimir HallgrimssonREUTERS/Yves HermanLivepic

By John Geddie

NICE, France (Reuters) - Iceland may have pulled off one of the greatest shocks in European Championship history by beating England on Monday but joint-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson believes there is more to come.

Their stunning 2-1 defeat of England in the last 16, which led opposition coach Roy Hodgson to resign, sets up a mouth-watering clash with hosts France in the quarter-finals.

"We've been improving slowly and, in my opinion... this was our best game yet but we still haven't shown what we can do," said Hallgrimsson. "Hopefully, our best game is yet to come."

After falling behind to a fourth-minute Wayne Rooney penalty Iceland levelled almost immediately through Ragnar Sigurdsson and struck again in the 18th with a Kolbeinn Sigthorsson shot.

While they were forced to defend deeper in the second period, they still had chances, with man-of-the-match Sigurdsson attempting a bicycle kick, a rare sight for a central defender.

"They (England) thought this would be a walk in the park, but we had faith in our ability," said Sigurdsson. "I think they panicked. It's not easy to score goals against Iceland."

While Iceland - a nation of about 330,000 people - will be the underdogs against France in Paris on Sunday, few would completely rule out another upset.

They beat the Netherlands home and away in qualifying as the Dutch failed to reach Euro 2016 and in the group stages at the finals have drawn with Cristiano Ronald's Portugal and Hungary and beat Austria, tipped as dark horses before the tournament.

"I expect a good (French) team, similar to England maybe. France haven't been playing their best football yet and neither have we," said Sigurdsson. "We want to try and be a little bit more dominant and play a little bit more technically."

The European championships have had some surprise winners with Denmark having triumphed in 1992 after being drafted in to replace disqualified Yugoslavia and outsiders Greece managing to win in 2004 having not been at the finals for 24 years.

But this year's showpiece match still seems a long way off for Iceland, who would come up against Italy or Germany if they managed to see off the hosts at the Stade de France.

"Now that they (the players) have gone through this hurdle, every obstacle in their way now is going to look smaller... that changes their mentality," said Hallgrimsson.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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