Iceland coach bemoans 'silly mistakes'

Iceland joint head coach Lars Lagerbac reacts during Uefa Euro 2016 football match between France and Iceland.
Iceland joint head coach Lars Lagerbac reacts during Uefa Euro 2016 football match between France and Iceland.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Iceland failed to use their brains in Sunday's 5-2 defeat by France at Euro 2016, joint coach Lars Lagerback said, though he spoke with pride of the team's achievements in getting to the quarter-finals in their first major tournament appearance.

France romped to a 4-0 half-time lead in the last of the quarter-finals and, though the Icelanders showed commendable spirit to fight back after the break, another shock after their victory over England never looked likely.

"The first half looked like the play-off second leg against Croatia for the (2014) World Cup. We didn't handle it well mentally," Lagerback said in reference to that 2-0 Zagreb defeat.

"It's some kind of mental thing that happened to the players. We weren't using our brains, we didn't play our normal way.

"Part of it is that France were very good but we weren't sharp enough in our decision-making. We made some silly mistakes, and we didn't do well as a team."

Lagerback, who will now hand over the team's reins completely to current partner Heimir Hallgrimsson after 41/2 years, added: "It's really impressive that the players turned it around as they did and I don't think it was because France let us do that. They showed a bit of the real Icelandic attitude in the second half."

However, Lagerback was full of pride and praise for the way the players had performed through the month, when they won one and drew two group games before shocking England in Nice.

"It's been a fantastic tournament so it's a big thank you to everyone," said the former Sweden coach.

"If you look at the whole tournament, and to reach the quarter-finals, it's been fantastic."

Captain Aron Gunnarsson said the team had been determined to not go out on the wrong end of a thrashing.

"The first half was terrible but the second half we played better," he said. "We decided we couldn't leave the competition like that and I think we saved face.

"We're disappointed but still incredibly proud. It's been such an amazing experience."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'Iceland coach bemoans 'silly mistakes''. Print Edition | Subscribe