The Faroe Islands have no chance of qualification, but they have as always given a good account of themselves. They may have only secured 1 point in a draw against Austria, but in conceding only 8 goals, they have proven to be viable opposition.
It would easy to dismiss the contribution of the Faroes in this and recent campaigns. The Faroe Islands do not even merit a footnote in most World Cup blogs. Many casual observers of the European game see the inclusion of small nations such as the Faroes Islands as an irritant, a disruption to the seemingly more important business that goes on between football's grandees.
I respectfully disagree. I am of the opinion that European football is richer because of away fixtures in places like Toftir and Tórshavn. The Faroe Islands played their first competitive international in Sweden because they were no compliant grass pitches on the islands. That was only in 1990. Now powerful football nations like France go to the Faroes and are lucky to come away with a 1-0 win. (It is noteworthy most of Faroese squad remain home based players, with only a sprinkling of professionals plying their trade in Denmark. 22 year old reserve keeper, Gunnar Nielsen, is on Manchester City's books.)
The Faroe Islands are proof positive of the power of football to be a great leveler. Nothing can be more leveling than an icy cold draft up a player's shorts waiting for kick-off on a patch of Faroese grass while being casually observed by a flock of sheep from a craggy hill above.
*Above is the first photograph taken in 1909 of a football match on the Faroe Islands.
(NB: My support for first class fixtures in the Faroe Islands does not diminish my view that UEFA is oversubscribed to FIFA's World Cup Finals. I will propose how best to trim the UEFA quotient in my next post.)