After the friendly match between Estonia and Iceland (1-1), we had the chance to speak to the captain of the Icelandic team, the midfielder of Serie A team Hellas Verona, Emil Hallfreðsson.
Emil, what are your thoughts about the match (against Estonia)?
It was a good match, very competitive. We played with 11 new players that haven’t really played a lot together and the result is as it is.
Did you expect such a resistance from Estonia?
We knew before the match that they are a team that doesn’t concede a lot of goals, especially in front of the home crowd and we were prepared for that. In the first 15 minutes we played very well. We scored one goal and we could have scored another one, but after that I don’t know what happened, maybe we got distracted or we just weren’t concentrated enough and we allowed Estonia to take over control and the final result 1-1 is a realistic one in my opinion.
You are on a good run in the European qualifiers lying just one point behind Czech Republic and in front of powerhouses like the Netherlands and Turkey. If the playoffs for the World Cup were surprise to many, now everyone sees Iceland as a serious opponent. What do you owe this success to?
We have very good coaches and we prepare for our matches very well, there are a lot of quality players in the squad and we are playing good as a team. There is a good chemistry between us, we stick together and that is quite important for success.
You are going back to Italy now for the final games of Serie A.
What are your expectations with Hellas Verona?
Our goal is still to remain in Serie A (Hellas Verona are sitting at 16th spot, 11 points from relegation spot -edit). Last season was great for us, we finished 10th after 11 seasons in Serie B but we are still humble. Our aim was to get 40 points as early as possible. We have 32 at the moment with 10 games left and Saturday’s match against Cesena is very important as we both fight to survive and if we win that match I think that we will be on the right path to stay up.
What are your future plans? Staying put or moving to a different club?
No, not really. Only this summer I signed a 3-year extension, I am very happy so there is no reason to move anywhere. Verona is a beautiful city and me and my family are happy there - we have lived in Verona for 5 years now - and it really feels like home. To be honest, I can’t wait to go back “home” tomorrow. It has been a tiring campaign and playing on the artificial turf in Kazakhstan wasn’t really the greatest experience, but it was okay in the end as we won with 3-0.
Thank you very much Emil and good luck!
By Deni Delev