Breidablik exited the UEFA Europa League last week but, for coach Olafur Helgi Kristjánsson, it was a mere blip in the development of a youthful side making waves domestically.
Kristjánsson inherited a squad in 2006 short on experience but with exuberance aplenty, a virtue he has continually tapped into while moulding a team which, he feels, grows wiser by the day. The Kopavogur club won last season's Icelandic Cup and though their European campaign was ended by Motherwell FC in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, they are second in the Premier League, three points behind ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar .
"It is a pleasure to have young players who listen and are willing to do whatever it takes to improve," said Kristjánsson. "It is very fulfilling to get a young player and make him better." Formerly a player with FH Hafnarfjördur and KR Reykjavík, Kristjánsson learned the technician's trade as a youth coach and assistant at Danish outfit AGF Aarhus, yet it is his time with Breidablik that has been the most satisfying.
"Winning the cup in 2009 was no coincidence because we had gained experience, meaning the club and the players were ready to take that next step," he added. "The biggest breakthrough was actually winning something. Previously the club were known more for winning youth and women's titles, so we broke down that barrier."
If nurturing youth remains key to Kristjánsson's blueprint, he is also a firm believer in emphasising technical development alongside physical prowess. "Most of my coaching is with a ball and that gives us players who can both receive a pass and pass it themselves. Physically we try to have strong players even if they are not tall. If you play well and the club do well, it brings attention to the players. The boys can be proud of the performances against Motherwell [in two 1-0 defeats], we can see we are on the right track. I think this will help us in the domestic league. We are hungry for the title and there is no reason to hold back.
"Most of the team were playing for the youth team when I came in. We looked carefully at developing them and followed a plan. The board did not panic if the team were struggling, as they could see there was a plan and a vision in what I was doing."