When Cameroon superstar Samuel Eto'o fired the Indomitable Lions into the lead against Denmark after just ten minutes of Saturday's match in Tshwane/Pretoria, the Danes' future at this FIFA World Cup™ looked bleak. But the Scandinavians silenced the doubters with a courageous fightback as goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Dennis Rommedahl kept their hopes of a berth in the Round of 16 well and truly alive.
Greece had achieved the feat against Nigeria, but it was otherwise only the second time a team has come from behind to win in South Africa. "I wasn’t surprised, I know all about my team's fantastic attitude," coach Morten Olsen told FIFA. "They fight for each other and for their country. The team has tremendous desire, and the players are extremely level-headed. We scored two very good goals, and we created other chances as well. This aspect of our game was good, but other things didn't go so well."
Goalscorer Bendtner agreed, saying: "I'm delighted about the win and my goal, but not about the way we played. However, at the end of the day, it's points that matter in the group stage." Turning his attention to the next match against Japan, the Arsenal forward added: "It won't be easy but we're determined to win. I've watched them myself. They're a good footballing side and they'll battle away, like they did against the Netherlands."
Japan are a good footballing side and they'll battle away, like they did against the Netherlands.
The Danes' Group E meeting with Japan on Thursday has taken on a do-or-die dimension for Olsen's men. The Dutch are already through to the Round of 16 and Cameroon are out of the running in last place, meaning the contest in Rustenburg will decide the destiny of the second qualifying spot. Whoever wins will be home and dry, but a draw would see the Asians through at the Danes' expense.
"We always knew the opening match against the Dutch would be difficult," added Olsen. "We gave it our best shot, but it didn't work out the way we wanted it to. That meant we were already under pressure against Cameroon. Ultimately, what we can say now is that Denmark have a chance of making the next round." The seasoned coach rounded off his chat with FIFA by revisiting events in the past. "We had a little bit of luck in 1998 and survived the group phase with only four points. We need six points this time, and in any case, the rest of the tournament will be considerably more difficult than it was back then [when Denmark were quarter-finalists]."