GELENDZHIK, Russian Federation, Jun 10 – Iceland needed police help to keep their World Cup plans on track after coach Heimir Hallgrimsson put his bag on the wrong bus in a comical start to their debut campaign.
Hallgrimsson’s bag was on a bus headed for northern Iceland rather than the team coach bound for the airport on Saturday, a slip that delayed the group’s departure by half an hour while the item was recovered.
“It was good for the guys that they can laugh at me,” Hallgrimsson told AFP on Sunday after the team’s first World Cup training session close to the city of Gelendzhik on Russia’s sunny Black Sea coast.
“Hopefully it’s the only mistake of the tournament.”
Assistant coach Helgi Kolvidsson said the bag contained a computer that had “20 years of work on it”.
“We had to get the police to stop the bus while Heimir bought us a round of coffee at the airport,” he added.
The Nordic side embarked on a fairytale run at Euro 2016, peaking with an astonishing 2-1 win against England as they came from a goal down to condemn Roy Hodgson’s team to a humiliating last-16 exit.
In Russia they face another daunting challenge, with an opening match on June 16 against 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina. Croatia and Nigeria are their other group-stage opponents.
Hallgrimsson said the experience gained at Euro 2016 would help Iceland, who face pressure from fans at home who want to taste success in their first ever World Cup appearance.
“We have a clue now about what we are getting into,” he said. “We are not as lost in the air as we were before the Euros. Hopefully we can surprise Argentina and maybe other teams too,” he said.
Iceland staff said Everton midfielder and team talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson has recovered from a knee injury and is “ready” to face Lionel Messi’s men.
But team captain Aron Gunnarsson did not take a full part in Sunday’s session, held in temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in front of several hundred local people.
The bearded Cardiff City midfielder’s knee injury sustained in April is an “injury concern” for the opening match, according to former Iceland international Gudni Bergsson.
“We are hoping that he will be fit on the day, but we will see about that,” he said.