Sigurður Ragnar Eyjólfsson took over as coach of China’s women’s national football team in November. He told RÚV the recent success of the Iceland men’s national football team has been a great advertisement for Icelandic coaches in Asia.
Sigurður coached Iceland’s women’s national team for seven years from 2006-2013, working later as an assistant coach in Iceland and Norway until 2016. He took over Chinese team Jiangsu Suning last January, leading them to a national championship and third place in their league.
Sigurður says the environment in the national team is different from that of European football. The team will be together for 160 days next year, with three planned training trips to the United States. He says the team has 100 percent support at their back and receives everything they request, “whether it’s people on our team or equipment, training trips wherever we want to go and however long we want to stay,” he told RÚV yesterday.
Sigurður’s coaching team includes Icelander Halldór Björnsson and Dean Edward Martin, an English footballer who played in Iceland for many years. They are not the only Icelanders coaching national sports teams in Asia, as Dagur Sigurðsson and Guðmundur Guðmundsson coach the national handball teams of Japan and Bahrain.
“I think the reputation of Icelandic coaches is getting better and better,” says Sigurður. “The success of the men’s national team has naturally created interest, it has been a great advertisement for Icelandic coaches I think. But they still have to have something behind them and those we’ve mentioned have achieved great results as coaches.”