Volgograd (Russia) (AFP) – Iceland midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson has not recovered from the calf injury he picked up against Argentina and is set to miss Friday’s crucial Group D clash with Nigeria.
Iceland’s coach said Thursday that the injury means he will make changes to his line-up but boldly predicted his side, who held Argentina to a 1-1 draw, would beat the Super Eagles in Volgograd.
“We expect to win,” coach Heimir Hallgrimsson told reporters at the Volgograd Arena after a brief training session.
“It is very unlikely that Joey will play. But he’s getting better every day, and is in good hands,” Hallgrimsson said, adding that the Burnley player would be replaced by Olafur Skulason if he doesn’t make it.
Gudmundsson was forced off after an hour against Argentina but there was better news on Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson who had faced a race against time to be fit for the tournament.
He played the full 90 minutes against Argentina and has recovered completely. “He’s 100 percent fit. Match fit and ready to play,” said Hallgrimsson.
“We have been rotating the team in preparation so we are ready to switch it around and it doesn’t change our plans how we will approach this game.”
Iceland are buoyant after their shock result against Argentina where Lionel Messi saw a potentially match-winning penalty saved by Hannes Halldorsson.
And captain Aron Gunnarsson said it was the team’s togetherness and spirit that enabled them to keep punching above their weight on the world stage, having famously knocked England out of Euro 2016.
“I’ve always said that when everyone is rowing in the same direction then anything is possible in football,” said Gunnarsson.
Nigeria lost their opening match 2-0 to Croatia and Hallgrimsson said he expected the Africans to come out firing.
“This is a must-win game for Nigeria, and that makes it a little bit psychologically different, they have to win,” he said.
“This group is going to be decided in the last minutes, in the last game.
“It’s going to be down to some margins, a set piece, a goal in injury time. This is how this group is going to be played.”
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