Despite an impressive showing during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Iceland have been named among the fifth seeds for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying draw.
The news will come as a blow to Lars Lagerbäck’s side, who had hoped their performances over the past two years, which culminated in Iceland reaching the play-off stages of the World Cup qualifying rounds, might have been enough to move them up into the fourth pot of seeds.
Iceland share Pot five with Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Albania, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However, out of the nine teams in Pot 4, just two – Scotland and Armenia – are ranked above Iceland in the Fifa World Rankings. The rest – Montenegro, Finland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Wales, Belarus and Estonia – all sit beneath the North Atlantic nation.
The draw will take place in Nice on 23 February. There will be eight groups consisting of six teams and a ninth made up of five teams. A total of 23 nations will qualify for the tournament, joining hosts France, who do not have to qualify.
Lagerback is currently in charge of what is widely considered as Iceland’s ‘golden generation’. With players gaining valuable experience in some of Europe’s top leagues, coupled with the fact that an additional eight teams will qualify for this year’s Euros compared to last time out, the Swede will be confident that his side may be able to spring an upset and qualify for their first major international tournament.