Jubilation as Iceland's World Cup party begins


Celebrations reached fever pitch in Iceland with players and supporters in raptures after the tiny Nordic country secured World Cup qualification for the first time.

Iceland, the smallest country ever to reach the finals, booked their ticket to next year's finals in Russia by beating Kosovo 2-0 to top their European qualifying group.

"Are you kidding! We are going to the World Cup!" the local TV commentator screamed as the final whistle blew and fireworks erupted over the Laugardalsvollur national stadium.

"Iceland to the World Cup," was the cry at the biggest sports bar in downtown Reykjavik.

Outside the rain came down but nothing was going to stop the celebrations

"The smallest country to get to the World Cup by far, this is surreal," supporter Gunnar Atli Thorodssen said.

"I have to book my ticket to Russia immediately."

Iceland's population is about 330,000 while the previous smallest country to have reached a World Cup was Trinidad and Tobago, in 2006, which has 1.3 million people.

After the match Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson led supporters in the team's iconic Viking Clap.  

"The World Cup, Pele, Maradona and Aron Einar Gunnarsson," the national team manager Heimir Hallgrimsson told TV reporters.

Behind him, the players joined the crowd in singing "Feroalok", the team's anthem, which means: "I am home".

Gunnarsson has no doubt that the World Cup is where Iceland, ranked 22nd in last month's FIFA world rankings, belong.

"Nonsense? I don't know if this is nonsense," he said.

"After we lost against Croatia (in the 2014 World Cup playoffs) we aimed at qualifying next time.

"In my opinion we were in the most difficult group, but we decided that we were just going to finish this.

"We had no interest in some play-off bother."

Source AAP