Iceland came within inches of becoming the smallest country by population ever represented at a World Cup final tournament when they were drawn against Croatia in the European zone playoffs. With 320,000 citizens, the insular nation in the North Atlantic is three times less populous than the current champions – Trinidad and Tobago.
But, it was not to be for the descendants of the Viking explorers. Croatia edged Iceland with a 2-0 home win in Zagreb after a goalless draw in Reykjavik. The newly appointed manager Niko Kovac (ex-Hertha, HSV and Bayern midfielder) outsmarted his ultra-experienced counterpart on the Icelandic bench, Lars Lagerback.
Instead of Iceland, travelling to Brazil will be Croatia, another of the small nations, but with a respectable international record. Croatia, with 4.3 million inhabitants a giant compared to Iceland, will appear in its 8th final tournament, counting both World Cups and Euros. Taking into account the country’s size, population, number of registered players and its GNP, Croatia is in fact one of the most successful soccer nations.
According to an analysis published on the Zagreb-based www.tportal.hr web site, a total of 60 teams, 28 of which are European, have qualified for the last five World Judi Bola Online24Jam Terpercaya Cups, including Brazil 2014. The analysis covered the period since 1994, when the red-and-whites were first allowed to take part in a qualifying stage, which happened to be for Euro 1996 in England.
David among Goliaths
Only eleven teams, five of which are European, have reached all five tournaments. France and Germany qualified automatically for the tournament each of them hosted, while England, Italy and Spain qualified every time by playing in the qualifiers.
Six countries have made it to four out of five tournaments, three coming from Europe: Holland, Portugal …Read More