Heimir Hallgrimsson says Euro 2016 has not yet seen the best of Iceland despite the outsiders having confounded expectations to reach the quarter-finals.
After beating England 2-1 in Nice on Monday, the Nordic minnows face hosts France in Sunday’s fourth quarter-final at the Stade de France, but joint-coach Hallgrimsson insists his side can still get better.
“We’re always playing the biggest game in Icelandic football history,” he told a pre-match press conference. “We’re more used to it the more games we play. When we have overcome these obstacles, the next obstacles seem lower. We become more confident with each game and it helps to calm you.
“If you’re too tense you don’t show your best. We are a bit more relaxed and a bit more self-confidence with each game, and I believe you’ve not seen the best of Iceland yet.”
Hallgrimsson, who shares the coaching role with former Sweden boss Lars Lagerback, also railed against the suggestion from some in the media that Iceland play a very simple brand of football.
“We play simple if that is what you call playing to our strengths,” Hallgrimsson said. “If someone thinks that is boring or not good enough that’s their opinion, but we play to our style, we are coherent and we can beat good nations. That is what is simple about it.”
Like their opponents France, Iceland’s squad did not train on the Stade de France surface as is customary on Saturday, instead being put through their paces at their training camp in the southern town of Annecy.
And Hallgrimsson joked that the idyllic lakeside resort is one of the motivating factors behind their run to the last eight, with some of the bigger nations falling by the wayside in the meantime.
He added: “You [French media] are unlucky, you made us stay in Annecy which is one of the best places in the world so we keep wanting to go back there after every game!
“Let’s hope that France will join the list of the ‘best teams’ that are out of the tournament.”
The winners of Sunday’s quarter-final will face either Germany or Italy in Thursday’s second semi-final.