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Culture

Germany Beats Faroe Islands by a Hair

Although Germany’s team beat the northern islanders in a European Soccer Qualification round, the real praise goes to the plucky underdogs who played a respectable game against the runner-up world champions.

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Is the next soccer power an archipelago in the North Sea?

The Faroe Islands may be one of the minnows of European soccer, but the island team from the North Sea gave the Germans a good run in a qualification game on Wednesday night in Hanover.

Despite losing 2:1 to this year’s second place World Cup team, the Faroe Islands impressed soccer fans throughout Europe with their give-it-all efforts, and embarrassed the German team by showing just how easy it is to slide in a goal.

Plucky part-timers

The Faroe islands, which belong to Denmark, were pitted as sure losers prior to the match. Predictions of a 7:0 or 8:0 walkover were considered realistic for a team made up largely of fishermen and part-time kickers. But in the end, the Danes were proud of their team’s defensive tactics.

“After a fantastic display of fighting spirit Dane Henrik Larsen’s Faroese national team lost by only 2:1... and with a little luck it could have turned out much better,” the Danish newspaper B.T. said on Thursday morning.

The team’s trainer, Henrik Larsen told the paper, “We played a very good game. I’m happy the whole world could see how good we play soccer. We were strong on the defense, and we attempted a lot on the offense. We also had a few shots at the goal, but we still have to train a lot more.”

Germany’s coach Rudi Völler admitted the game had brought his team down to earth from its lofty expectations: “It’s forced us to return back to the basics of getting through a game. I don’t want to glorify anything. It was obvious from the beginning, that we couldn’t win more than three points.”

An underestimated force

The tiny group of 18 islands located off the northern coast of Scotland, between Norway and Iceland in the icy North Sea, is certainly not the place one normally thinks about for hosting a soccer nation. But, the Faroe Islands are not to be underestimated.

Although neither their league nor their national team plays a big role on the international soccer stage, the islanders can’t be topped in their enthusiasm for the sport. Nearly one in every eight residents is a member of a soccer club – a statistic larger soccer nations can only dream of.

The genuine love for the game and the emotional support from the fans is the Faroese strongest weapon when it comes to challenging other bigger teams. Scotland already experienced what it means to go up against the underdogs after just barely snatching a lucky 2:2 draw in September.

Scotland’s German coach Berti Vogts warned his compatriot Völler not to underestimate the potential of the Faroes: his team of highly-paid players is still nursing its bruises from the embarrassment.

Völler himself seems to have taken the words to heart. At the start of Wednesday’s match, the German coach stressed that today their were no easy opponents in soccer. “One shouldn’t make light of our challengers from the Faroe Islands,” he reportedly told his players. And at the end of the game, the Germans certainly weren’t laughing.

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