Iceland boss Eyjolfur Sverrisson openly admits he is surprised by Northern Ireland's rise to success.
It was just 12 months ago that an Eidur Gudjohnsen-inspired Iceland romped to a 3-0 win at Windsor Park. Since then the fortunes of the two nations could not be more contrasting.
Northern Ireland sit in second place of Group F and despite defeat in Latvia at he weekend, a win tonight would see Nigel Worthington's men top the group.
Iceland's hopes of making it to Euro 2008 have long since gone and the point they collected in Saturday night's 1-1 draw against Spain in Reykjavik is only their second since the Windsor win.
"I have been surprised a little bit by Northern Ireland doing so well in this group, but their great team spirit has brought them there," said Sverrisson.
"Although I didn't think they would be doing so well, they do have a good chance of qualifying for the finals.
"They have been fantastic and the country must be proud.
"I was surprised that we won so well in Belfast in the first game, but we know it will be different this time.
"When you look at the group you can see Northern Ireland are a better team, but I am expecting a very physical battle and we are ready for a big fight.
"We will have to be more aggressive in attacking, but with David Healy around it would be suicide for us to attack too much and leave space at the back.
"We got a good result against Spain on Saturday, but we should have won that game.
"We did well but a lot of our games in this group have not been good and we have to make sure we don't give Northern Ireland an easy game."
Sverrisson has left the door open for Barcelona star, Gudjohnsen to play tonight.
The former Chelsea striker has been given permission to travel to Reykjavik by the Spanish giants, but he may have to make do with a place on the bench.
"Eidur is fit. He will train this morning and we will see then if he can play," added Sverrission.
"If our doctors give him the green light then it is a possibility."