Denmark will be making their fourth appearance at the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup, having qualified for the tournaments in China in 1991, Sweden in 1995 and the United States in 1999. The Danes will be one of three Scandinavian outfits travelling to China next year, alongside Norway and Sweden.
What is guaranteed is that they will be looking to improve on their recent record at the FIFA Women's World Cup when they arrive in the Far East. Denmark failed to progress past the qualifying stages for the 2003 tournament in the United States, and four years earlier, also in the US, they only managed one goal in their three group phase matches - a Janni Johansen strike in a 3-1 loss to Korea DPR. The Danes would go onto finish the group pointless in last place that year, behind the hosts, Nigeria and Korea DPR.
Although there are few survivors from that era, three remain key
players in the current Denmark team. Katrine Pedersen, who plays in
Sweden for Djurgarden/Alvsjo, has racked up more than 120 caps
since making her debut in 1994 and she remains a captain who leads
very much by example. The only two players with a longer
international career are Anne Dot Eggers Nielsen and Meret
This vastly experienced trio form the backbone of coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller's side. Katrine Pedersen is a steadying influence at the back, with Nielsen pulling the strings in the middle of the park and Meret Pedersen providing the firepower up front. With more than 50 international goals to her credit, the 33-year old striker from Odense BK is out on her own as Denmark's top international scorer, finding the net ten times in the qualifiers alone.
In the event of Pedersen having an off-day or being unavailable, the Danes have other players with an eye for goal. With Pedersen missing from both qualifiers against Finland, it was Maiken Pape's sixth strike in eleven games that sealed Denmark's place in the finals ahead of their northern rivals. Pape scored four times in the qualifying campaign, as did midfielder Catherine Paaske Sorensen. Between them, Pedersen, Pape and Sorensen accounted for 18 of Denmark's 22 goals in the qualifiers, and they are hoping to provide plenty more headaches for opposing defences at China 2007.
Denmark were up against Finland, Spain, Poland and Belgium in the qualifying round and had to sweat it out until their final match to secure a ticket to China. Heiner-Moller's team started the group with a resounding 5-1 win in Poland and followed that up with a 3-0 victory over Belgium, but two points dropped away to Spain left them battling it out with the Finns for a finals spot.
The Danes' penultimate fixture took them to Finland, where they were rather unlucky to lose 2-1. That set up an all-or-nothing return encounter in Viborg, where Denmark needed to win to go through. And win they did, with a Maiken Pape strike in the 56th minute enough to see the home team squeeze through in front of a record crowd of almost 10,000 fans.
Kenneth Heiner-Moller will be one of the youngest coaches at the finals in China. The 35-year-old only took over from Peter Bonde as Denmark head coach in July of this year. Heiner-Moller's own playing career took him to a number of clubs both in Denmark and abroad, and in 1995 he won the league and cup double with Ferencvaros in Hungary.
Heiner-Moller's first coaching job was in 2002 with the
youth team at B93 Copenhagen, where he had spent four years as a
player. The following year he went to Lyngby for a season, where he
was also in charge of the youth squad. In 2005 he took over the
women's team at Brondby and immediately guided them to victory
in both the league and the cup, before being taken on as national
coach in July.
His new job began inauspiciously with a 2-1 defeat to Norway, albeit in a friendly. That was followed by the qualifying loss in Finland, but Heiner-Moller's first taste of victory in the return was enough to see Denmark through to the finals.
Previous Record at FIFA World Cup Women's Finals
|7||Cathrine PAASKE SORENSEN|
|8||Julie RYDAHL BUKH|
|10||Anne DOT EGGERS NIELSEN|