While Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has noted that “Icelandic football is on the rise” there is no sign this season his own side is in decline.
The back-to-back Airtricity League champions are top of the table at home again as they prepare to face FH Hafnarfjordur tonight.
And Kenny is hoping last year’s experience of just being edged out by group qualifiers BATE Borisov will stand to his team.
“We have left no stone unturned in our preparation,” he said. “Last year against BATE Borisov was a great learning curve for us. It was a difficult tie and they went on to the group stages, but the players are in good form at the moment.
“The Champions League is the highest level in Europe. We are Ireland’s representatives and we are representing our region too. The goals are evenly spread through the team and we are scoring at a good ratio per game.”
Tonight’s opposition will bring a taste of football’s flavour of the month to Oriel Park after the heroics of the Icelandic national team at Euro 2016.
But, as a side which has won their domestic league seven times since 2000, it’s no coincidence Hafnarfjordur have the profile they enjoy in their own right.
“The reason FH are seeded is because they have been consistent in Europe over the last few years,” Kenny observed.
“Icelandic football is on the rise.”
Centre-half Brian Gartland agrees.
“It’s a good league and Icelandic football is obviously on the up after their games at the Euros,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen they like to get the ball down and they have a few tidy players.”
Meanwhile, new sports channel eir Sports (formerly Setanta Sports) have announced they will have live coverage of the tie’s second leg in Iceland on Wednesday July 20.
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