If Estonia and Switzerland have clashed only twice and in qualifiers, Estonia and Iceland have come across four times and only for a friendly. It will not make an exception this time as this is the ‘return game’ of the friendly held in Reykjavik last June (1-0 for Iceland).
When Estonia got independent in 1991, the first country to recognize the small Baltic republic was Iceland. An action that inspired the country’s democratic rulers to rename the once Lenin Square into Iceland Square as a sign of gratitude.
In football, however, Iceland has not been so…friendly.
Out of the past 4 confrontations, the islanders have won three times (including last June) and slipped on a 0-2 loss only once.
The favourable precedent for Estonia dates back to 2002. With probably one of the lowest attendances ever (700 people) due to the heavy snow falling, Kristen Viikmäe and Andres Oper bagged one each to give Estonia the first and only joy against Iceland. It was Estonia’s last game of year 2002 giving the country their highest ranking ever (60th ) before 2011 (47th ).
Viikmäe’s and Oper’s are, to date, the only goals scored against Iceland who can boast a 8-2 aggregate.
The first encounter in 1994 was a whitewash in typical 90’s style for Estonia.
Thorvaldur Örlygsson is a difficult name to pronounce, although the 24-time international goalkeeper Toomas Tohver will not forget it easily. In fact, Örlygsson scored a hattrick in first half and Thordur Gudjonsson closed the account on 54’ minutes, 4-0.
In 1996, Iceland paid back a visit in Tallinn at the Kadriorg Park stadium. This time it was Mart Poom’s turn to suffer a hattrick bagged by Bjarki Gunnlaugson.
Gunnlaugson job was quicker than Örlygsson: 22 minutes against 26.
However this game entered the football records book for a singular episode that never took place before: father and son playing for the national team at the same time.
We’re obviously hinting at the Gudjohnsens, Arnor (father) being replaced by Eidur.
However, it was not the only ‘family affair’ taking place that afternoon in Kadriorg. Icelandic coach of Estonia, Teitur Thordarsson, saw his son Olafur playing his 65th international game with Iceland.
In February 1996,Teitur had succeeded to Roman Ubakivi who just turned 70 and is the most unsuccessful coach of regained independence: 22 games, 0 wins. Thordarsson stayed in charge until November 1999 and is the coach with second most games at the helm of the ‘Sinisärgid’, 57.
2014 game in Reykjavik was much of a different story as Estonia managed to hold the clean sheet almost for one hour before Kolbeinn Sigurdsson put it past Sergei Pareiko from the penalty spot.
If in 1996 both coaches were Icelandic, this time they will both be Swedish since Lars Lagerback is one of the secrets behind Iceland’s exploit at the WC’14 qualifiers.
(sources: 'Estonian Football 100 years', Estonia FA website)