ICELAND VS NETHERLANDS, Reykjavik, 06/06/09
UFWC action returns on Saturday, as the Netherlands look to defend their title in Reykjavik against Iceland. The Netherlands have won 35 UFWC title matches, are fifth in the UFWC rankings, and third in FIFA’s rankings. Iceland have never won a UFWC match in five attempts, so have no UFWC ranking, and are ranked 94th by FIFA.
As well as being a UFWC title match, the game is also a World Cup Qualifier. A win for the Netherlands, who currently top group nine, will confirm their qualification for the World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Netherlands will be without key playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who will miss the game with a hamstring injury. PSV midfielder Ibrahim Afellay is also injured. Striker Robin van Persie is named in the squad, although his availability for the match will depend on how he recovers from wisdom tooth surgery.
A new name added to the Dutch squad is Steve McClaren’s 22-year-old FC Twente winger Eljero Elia – currently being tracked by a host of clubs including Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton.
Iceland will be looking to recover from their disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Scotland in April. Currently 11 points adrift of the Netherlands in their WC qualification group, defeat would almost certainly end Iceland’s chances of competing in South Africa.
Should the Netherlands retain the title, their next UFWC title match will be against Norway in Rotterdam on Wednesday. (And the Netherlands’ next match is against England…) If Iceland win, they will defend the title in Skopje against FYR Macedonia on the same day.