Euro 2016: Iceland co-manager Heimir Hallgrimsson targets World Cup in Russia

Lars Lagerback, Heimir Hallgrimsson
Heimir Hallgrimsson will take sole charge of Iceland's World Cup qualifying campaign with Swedish co-manager Lars Lagerback standing down

Co-manager Heimir Hallgrimsson wants to build on Iceland's "fairytale" journey to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 by qualifying for the next World Cup.

Iceland, the smallest nation to qualify for a major finals, beat England in the last 16 before losing 5-2 to France.

"The World Cup is what we talked about before this tournament," Hallgrimsson said. "Success is not a destination but a journey in the right direction.

"We are going in the right direction and we should build upon this."

Hallgrimsson masterminded Iceland's success alongside Swedish co-manager Lars Lagerback but will take his country into the World Cup qualifiers on his own.

They will play Croatia, Ukraine, Turkey and Finland with just one team qualifying automatically for the finals in Russia in 2018.

Hallgrimsson, 49, a former dentist, told the BBC World Service: "People probably expect now that Iceland qualifies for every major tournament.

"Next is the World Cup. We have a tough group and it's tough to be the top team.

"We could use this and should use this as a brick to build on. That's our task."

Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland's most high-profile player, echoed those views.

"This has been a fairytale story around the world: a small nation going all the way to the quarter finals," he said.

"We will set the target to go all the way to the World Cup. It will be very difficult, we have got some really good teams in our group.

"But we will go away for a couple of weeks then set our minds to it."

Iceland president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson puts the team's performance down to forward planning and says it has brought the whole nation together.

He said: "Twenty years ago we started a systematic training programme for young kids in football and the team is now the first generation that produces the result of that training programme.

"But of course it was for us not just about football.

"It became a national journey which brought the nation together in an extraordinary way and proved that through training and education and team spirit you can indeed excel, even if you come from a small country."

Top Stories