Iceland v England - Euro 2016

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has been the talk of the town for a while now, and the Three Lions just followed suit at France, literally. The team played like an EPL side consisting of only home-grown talents would likely play once Brexit is fully effected. Or maybe its only a hasty conclusion. Despite parading the best legs the EPL has to offer, Hodgson just couldn’t use the many talents at his disposal to his advantage. Having picked a young team and faced some criticisms for his final selection, fine displays against Russia and Wales were beginning to convince people England could go all the way in France. But choosing a side that failed to inspire and grind out victory against Slovakia, resulting in their eventual loss of top spot in the group, the 68-year-old clearly didn’t get it right.

Despite coming out tops group F and without a single defeat, not many saw Iceland as capable of pulling a Leicester City on England. Only appearing in its first ever major tournament, the 330,000 populated country boasted just 2 popular names: a retired Gudjohnsen and Swansea’s Sigurdsson. They didn’t have a chance against the star-studded Three Lions. France versus England in the quarterfinals was even already playing out in the minds of many, and a 4th-minute penalty Rooney converted was seen as only the beginning of the many goals this tough side will concede. Iceland had other plans, and (no) thanks to a faulty backline and the most-error prone goalie of the tournament, the minnows were upfront courtesy of goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson less than 15 minutes later.

And then they did what they know how to do best. Defend. This team conceded the least number of goals during the qualifiers, emerged at the expense of Netherlands, played out a draw against Portugal and defeated Austria despite being rated 34th on the FIFA Ranking. England’s lack of finishing in the final third wasn’t going to make them convert any chances, and as he did to salvage a needed result against Wales, Hodgson threw in all his available strikers. But it was too late. Hart became a defender, Cahill and Smalling became midfielders and England had every other player thrown forward just to squeeze in a goal. It wasn’t meant to be, and Iceland deservedly held on to their lead. Definitely the upset of the tournament, but it only completed a day with surprising results in football. Argentina had failed to beat Chile in another shot at a trophy in 23 years, and Messi retired internationally as a result, Italy had handed Spain a 2 – 0 defeat, and the country with the so-called best league in the world was starring the most unlikeliest of exits in the face.

Iceland’s fairy-tale continues, and France will have to get their act together if they don’t want to be next to suffer an upset. But even beating England is enough achievement for the small nation. Nobody gave them a chance in France. But they’ve taken it. Roy Hodgson immediately resigned from his position, and the team will have to start afresh as the country continues its quest for a trophy with more than half a century wait.

Paul Koroma

I learned all about life with a ball at my feet. Soccer allows me to push the limitation of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train. I play, and I repeat every single day.

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