Ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round second-leg tie with KA Akureyri at Oriel Park, we take a closer look at our Icelandic opponents.
Who Are KA?
KA is an abbreviation of Knattspyrnufélag Akureyrar, a sporting club that was founded in 1928 and provides sporting opportunities in various sports including football, handball, judo, volleyball, and racket sports from its northern base in Iceland.
KA play their home games at the 2000-capacity Greifavöllurinn stadium in Akureyri, however this season they have their European home games at the Fram Stadium in Reykjavik, some five hours from their actual base.
They won the Icelandic title just once in 1989 and find themselves seventh in the Icelandic Besta Deild League having played 16 games thus far, picking up six wins, losing seven, and drawing three.
To qualify for the 2023/24 UEFA Europea Conference League, KA finished the 2022 Besta Deild campaign in second place, 10 points behind league winners Breidablik, who beat Shamrock Rovers in the UEFA Champions League recently.
In Iceland, the league is split in two after 22 games, leaving just five remaining fixtures for the championship and relegation rounds of the competition.
KA finished the campaign having won 16 of their 27 league games, drawing five and losing six with a goal difference of +24, the third-best in the league. Their championship round of five fixtures saw them confirm second place with two victories and one draw.
This season marks KA’s first European adventure in 20 years. They last played in the now-defunct Intertoto Cup back in 2003 when they faced Bosnian side, Sloboda Tuzla. After drawing both legs 1-1, the Icelandic side lost 3-2 on penalties.
Prior to that, there were only two other previous European entries for the club, their first coming in 1970 when they lost heavily to Zurich in the Cup Winners’ Cup, falling to a 14-1 aggregate defeat.
The season that they won the Icelandic league for the only time in their history saw them qualify for the European Cup, and despite picking up a 1-0 victory in the first leg, they lost 3-1 on aggregate to Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia.
The KA Squad
It is no surprise that the majority of the KA playing squad is homegrown, with just a handful of foreign players in the ranks, including Scottish forward, Harley Willard, Serbian defender Dusan Brokovic, Spanish midfielder Rodri and Bosnian goalkeeper Kristijan Jajalo.
Nokkvi Peyr Porisson won the golden boot in Iceland last season with 17 goals and secured himself a move to Belgian side Beerschot. KA’s next highest scorer was 31-year-old Hrannar Björn Steingrímsson who found the net nine times in the campaign.
Midfielder Daníel Hafsteinsson also featured for the Icelandic national team in their November 2022 fixture against South Korea.
The KA Head Coach Manager
Former Icelandic international centre-back Hallgrímur Jónasson is the current head coach of KA.
The 37-year-old picked up 16 caps for his country, scoring three goals in the process, and spent much of his playing career in Scandinavia and northern Europe at teams such as Keflavik, Lyngby, OB Odense and most prominently at Sønderjyske in Denmark where he made 78 appearances.
Jónasson joined KA in 2018 and is still listed as a player on the club’s website but took over from previous manager Arnar Grétarsson in 2022, having been his assistant since 2019.