Iceland qualification is no miracle - Hallgrimsson

Heimir Hallgrimsson will ask his whole team to stop Lionel Messi on Saturday rather than handing the task to one man.

Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson   -  Getty Images

Heimir Hallgrimsson rubbished talk of Iceland's qualification for the World Cup being a "miracle" and is hoping they can build on their surprise run to the European Championship quarter-finals two years ago.

Iceland won the hearts of football fans everywhere after reaching the last eight in France and part-time dentist Hallgrimsson believes securing a place in Russia is just reward for how they have continued to evolve.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's tricky opener against Lionel Messi and Argentina, Hallgrimsson said: "We don't think it's a miracle, it's great work from the FA and especially the players, no team can win games without good players.

"It's about knowing your strengths and weaknesses and playing to them. I know we are different to many teams here, we play a different style, but if you work together as one unit then anything is achievable.

"If someone is surprised then they don't know much about the Icelandic national team.

"The team has been very stable for the past few years, we are in 20th place on the FIFA list and have won many important games.

"We won our group in the qualifiers and we deserve to be here."

Hallgrimsson is hoping his players can build on the experience they gained at the Euros and qualify from a group that also contains Croatia and Nigeria.

He added: "I think we have more experience now, the players have more experience. It was much easier to prepare [for coming] here. When we went to France we didn't know what we were going into, it was new, we just rode the adrenaline.

"We are a lot better prepared for what is to come and hopefully we can use the experience from France.

"Our goal is to progress from the group. And if we do that we've left behind two really good teams and then we shouldn't fear anyone after that.

"That’s how we go into it mentally, but we know Iceland could have the best game of their lives but lose to Argentina, that is just the reality."

The 51-year-old was asked the inevitable question of how Iceland will look to nullify the threat posed by Messi and said it would be a team effort, rather than a task allocated to just one man.

"I don't have any magic formula, everyone has tried and he always manages to score, he is one of the best players in the world," he said.

"We will try to do it [stop him] as a team. It will be unfair to give some player the role of marking Messi."

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