Football: EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS: COUNTDOWN TO DOUBLE HEADER: VICTORY AT HAMPDEN WOULD BE AS GUD AS LIFTING THE WORLD CUP; SAYS ICELAND MARKSMAN EIDUR GUDJOHNSEN.
ICELAND'S Eidur Gudjohnsen is determined to make up for his Reykjavik horror show and dent Scotland's European Championship aspirations.
As the golden boy of Icelandic football, the Chelsea striker carries the hopes and dreams of the Nordic nation every time he pulls on the jersey. But he knows he let his country down when he faced Scotland last October.
Gudjohnsen drew a blank in Reykjavik as Scotland relieved some of the pressure on their beleaguered manager Berti Vogts with a 2-0 win, which put them in pole-position to clinch the Group 5 play-off spot.
But Gudjohnsen admits he was hampered by injury and not physically or mentally prepared to face the Scots.
Now, though, he is firing on all cylinders and gunning for Scotland.
And if he achieves his objective he believes it will be as sweet as winning the World Cup.
Gudjohnsen said: "I was disappointed with my own performance at home, but physically and mentally I wasn't right as I had just come back from injury and hadn't played much for Chelsea.
"I wasn't in the best form of my life so hopefully I can put in a better display this time.
"We under-performed and it was a bit of an anti-climax for the team. We let ourselves down, losing every challenge and every ball. If you do that you won't get a result anywhere.
"I go on the pitch trying to score and wanting to score but I'd rather play well and not score than play badly and score. I like to come off the pitch knowing I had a good game and did well for the team. Usually when I play well the goals come along.
"I think we would settle for a draw now. The most important thing is not to lose, although getting three points would be like winning the World Cup."
If Iceland lose on Saturday then their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2004 will be extinguished.
Atli Edvaldsson's side believed they would beat the Scots five months ago but they were not as confident of pulling off a shock when they arrived at Glasgow Airport yesterday.
Iceland have jumped above Vogts' charges in the FIFA World Rankings but Gudjohnsen has taken little notice of the Zurich computer's calculations.
He said: "I think the rankings has mainly got to do with the amount of friendlies Scotland have played under the new manager.
"They haven't got the results they've wanted but if you look at the game in Iceland we look more like the team in 63rd place. People don't expect us to beat bigger teams in Europe. What we need is a solid performance and a three points will be a bonus.
"We always have one or two great results at home against strong opposition.
"If we could get a result it would give us a great deal of confidence."
Iceland manager Edvaldsson would be delighted with a share of the spoils this weekend. He touched down in Scotland without two of his key players, Watford's Heidar Helguson and Ipswich's Hermann Hreidarsson, and compared winning at Hampden with his depleted squad as being on a par with topping the group.
Edvaldsson said: "We are missing some of our best players, like Heidar and Hermann. They are not with us and that is a great loss as we have no players of the same standard who can replace them. That is very bad for us.
"Gudni Bergsson is back and we hope his experience can help this young team and help the young players through the game.
"If we lose a player through injury we can pick one player of similar quality. If Scotland drop someone they have 10 guys who can come in.
"But there is always a chance when the ref starts the game. We will wait and see. Gudjohnsen is always likely to score but football is a team game and if we had three of four extra quality players like him then maybe we would have a chance.
"It would be like qualifying for the finals if we could win at Hampden. I'd sign for a draw right now."
RELIEF: Berti Vogts
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Mar 27, 2003|
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