Football

Iceland not afraid of England

Iceland players up for battle with Hodgson's
favourites

ROUND OF 16

ENGLAND v ICELAND

(Tuesday, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 142 & StarHub TV Ch 220 - Eleven EURO)

Iceland's performance at Euro 2016 so far means that they have no reason to sweat over Monday's last-16 clash against England, midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson said.

Iceland, who are making their first appearance at a major tournament, beat Austria 2-1 on Wednesday to finish second in their group and book their place in the knockout stages of Euro 2016, where they will come up against Roy Hodgson's team.

With England the favourites, Swansea's Sigurdsson (above, No. 10) suggested the lack of pressure on Iceland will play to their advantage.

"We are a small nation that nobody expects anything of... We will be the underdogs. It's going to be a tough night but it will be worth it," Sigurdsson said after their latest win.

"Is there any reason to worry about England? No, but we know it will be a very tough game. We have no pressure on us, that's the main thing. But if you look at England, if they lose to us there will be headlines back in England."

England have come under pressure after scoring just three goals so far as their strikers struggle to find their feet in the tournament, but Sigurdsson felt this highlighted the strength of Hodgson's squad.

"There are not many weaknesses in England's squad. They have a very good team and have got through a tough group, without playing their best football," said Sigurdsson, who is the only Icelandic player plying his trade in the Premier League.

"But that just shows how good they are and their best is probably yet to come. We will have to defend for long periods against them, but we have shown before that we are capable of it."

Kari Arnason, who made a pivotal goal-line clearance in the Austria clash, admitted facing England would be special.

"I've always supported England at big international tournaments when we haven't been playing," he said.

"It's a dream come true, but we go into the game to get a result. We believe in our ability."

Had Iceland drawn they would have played Croatia on Saturday, and co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson was happy to give some of his "tired legs" more to time to recover.

NOT AFRAID

"We're not afraid of the England game. We know how much fun it is to win now. It's no less of a victory to come second and get two extra days to prepare.

"Iceland knows everything about English football, we're English football crazy. I don't think we need to analyse them much, I think we know everything about them, but there are a lot of threats in their side.

"It will be form on the day that will count in the last 16."

Sigurdsson is hoping the clash goes the same way as his duels on the golf course with Harry Kane.

The smallest country to ever play at the European Championship on Wednesday enjoyed their greatest night, overcoming Austria 2-1 thanks to Arnor Ingvi Traustason's last-gasp winner at the Stade de France.

It was a remarkable end that propelled the nation of just 330,000 people through to the Euro 2016 knockout rounds, setting up an intriguing encounter against England in Nice on Monday.

Sigurdsson will come up against some familiar faces, having played alongside Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Kane at Tottenham.

Sigurdsson and Kane used to practise shooting together after training and became good friends, regularly playing golf.

When asked who was better on the green, Sigurdsson said: "Me. He might say him but he would be lying for you." - Reuters.

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