November 25, 2007: World Cup 2010 Qualifying Draw:
17 years after the Faroe Islands' shock victory over Austria in the Faroes' first ever qualifying game, the two countries are paired into the same qualifying-group again for the 2010 World Cup, together with France, Romania, Serbia and Lithuania.
A lot of the draw seems like a déjà vu, as the Faroe Islands have just been in the same group as both France and Lithuania in the just recently ended EURO 2008 qualifying campaign.
Qualifying group 7 for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: France Romania Serbia Lithuania Austria Faroe Islands
So how are chances for points this time around?
Against the top 3 teams, France, Romania and Serbia, it will be mighty difficult to get anything, so the points will have to come against Lithuania and Austria.
France: It's only 5 weeks since France demolished the Faroe Islands 6-0, and with the quality players that France have, those kinds of results can always come again against the part-timers. But on a very good they, the Faroe Islands are capable of giving even France stiff opposition – they proved that in the World Cup qualifier at home in 2004 where France really had to give their all to get the 3 points with a 2-0 win. But there still is a mile between stiff opposition and points.
Previous results against France: Oct. 13, 2007, Tórshavn: Faroe Isl. – France 0-6 (0-2), Euro 08 Qual. Oct. 11, 2006, Sochaux: France – Faroe Isl. 5-0 (2-0), Euro 08 Qual. Sep. 08, 2004, Tórshavn: Faroe Isl. – France, 0-2 (0-1), WC 06 Qual. Sep. 03, 2005, Lens: France – Faroe Islands 3-0 (2-0), WC 06 Qual.
Rumania: The Faroe Islands met Rumania in the qualifiers for the World Cup in USA in 1994 when Rumania was a world class team, spearheaded by Gheorghe Hagi, and it felt! 0-7 in Bukarest and 0-4 at home. Rumania have a good squad again and especially the away fixture will again prove difficult for the Faroe Islands. It will not be against Rumania that the points will come.
Serbia: The Faroe Islands have never met Serbia before. But Serbia is now what was left of former Yugoslavia, and them the Faroe Islands know all too well. Two of the Faroes' biggest losses have come against Yugoslavia, 0-7 and 1-8. Points against the Serbs are not likely.
Lithuania: This is the 3rd time the Faroes have been grouped with Lithuania. Lithuania drew 0-0 with the Faroe Island in a European Championship qualifier in Lithuania in 1998, but the Faroes have lost on 5 other occasions, twice in the just recently completed EURO 08 campaign. But if the Faroes are finally going to pick up some points again, Lithuania seems the right opponent for that operation. It has been done earlier as mentioned, and it so nearly happened at home in 2007 when Lithuania scored the winner just a couple of minutes from time.
Austria: A trip down memory lane. This is where it all started! On September 12 1990 the Faroe Islands created one of the biggest upsets ever in international soccer when they beat Austria in the Faroes' first ever qualifier. Can the Faroe Islands repeat that feat?
One very noticeable detail is that the Austrian coach from 1990, Josef Hickersberger, who was fired after the defeat then has later been re-appointed national coach. He must be shaking with nerves now ahead of the meetings with the Faroe Islands. Austria's present assistant coach, Andreas Herzog, was a player in the Austria side in 1990.
But Hickersberger has a European Championship at home (co-hosted with Switzerland) to concentrate on before the qualifiers for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 get underway. And depending on Austria's result in that Championship, it's not certain Hickersberger will still be coach after the championship. He is already under pressure as Austria have been getting very poor results in their friendlies leading up to the championship, not winning 9 matches in a row - an all-time national record - before they finally defeated Ivory cost in October, before they again went down to England in November.
So, a point aginast Austria will not be entirely unrealistic.
Previous results against Austria: Sep. 12, 1990, Landskrona: Faroe Isl. – Austria 1-0 (0-0), Euro 92 Qual. May 22, 1991, Salzburg: Austria – Faroe Islands 3-0 (1-0), Euro 92 Qual.
All the qualifying groups for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa:
Group 1: Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, Malta
Group 2: Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Moldova, Latvia, Luxembourg
Group 3: Czech Republic, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, San Marino
Group 4: Germany, Russia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein
Group 51: Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Estonia
Group 6: Croatia, England, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra
Group 7: France, Romania, Serbia, Lithuania, Austria, Faroe Islands
Group 8: Italy, Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro
Group 9: Netherlands, Scotland, Norway, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Iceland
But Faroese coach Jógvan Martin Olsen thinks he can beat all teams! – Let's end this article with a quote from FIFA's website:
Jogvan Martin Olsen, Faroe Islands (Coach):"Although Group 7 appears very tricky, because it includes World Cup runners-up France, my team is prepared for everything."
… and remind us on what happened on 12 September 1990: