Indonesia to host 2018 World Cup finalists Iceland in January friendlies

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PJ Roberts assesses if Rafael van der Vaart is suited for a move to Indonesian club Bali United.

Indonesia will host World Cup finalists Iceland for two friendly matches in January.

The visitors are scheduled to face an Indonesia Selection on Jan. 11 before a match against the Indonesia national team on Jan. 14.

There is much to be learned from the Icelanders’ success. They have done it with very limited human resources and a population which is less than 0.5 percent of Indonesia’s.

They¬†have gone from outsiders to contenders with a golden generation of players. Everton playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson is the star man, but the team’s success is based more on the collective unit than outstanding individuals.

Iceland reached the European Championship finals for the first time in 2016, and advanced to the quarterfinals by stunning England 2-1 in the Round of 16.

The ESPN FC crew feel Group D which contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria could prove to be the most exciting group of them all.

They have shown that this was not a one-off by qualifying for Russia 2018 by winning their group ahead of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey.

“Iceland’s visit will be an opportunity for Indonesian soccer. We can learn a lot from them and we will also hold youth and coaching sessions with the Iceland team,” Marsal Masita, Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) deputy secretary-general for business development, told the Jakarta Post.

Given the timing of the matches, it remains to be seen if Iceland will be able to bring the likes of Sigurdsson at a time when most of the European leagues are in full swing.

The likelihood is that the squad will be made up mostly of fringe players and those who turn out in the Scandinavian leagues, which have a break at that time.

But whoever makes the trip, Luis Milla’s side will certainly face a tough challenge against a country whose coaching system is currently the envy of the world.

It will also be a good litmus test for the Merah Putih ahead of November’s 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.

And Indonesia may also be able to welcome some of the fans who created a worldwide craze with the ‘Viking Clap’.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

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