Denmark Camp Focus – Danes prepare for Cameroon clash

Denmark face Cameroon on Saturday evening knowing that a win will put their hopes of qualifying back on track. Both sides lost their opening games with the Danes losing 2-0 to the Netherlands and Cameroon defeated by rank outsiders Japan. Head Coach Morten Olsen will be hoping for a better performance from his side against a team who are lacking in confidence.

Olsen has selection problems ahead of the crunch tie. Nicklas Bendtner could only last 60 minutes on his return from injury and there are worries as to whether he can last a full match. Daniel Agger believes the Arsenal striker is struggling to acclimatise to the conditions in South Africa. The high altitude levels along with his injury affected his fitness and could rule him out of the next game. With Bendtner up front the Reds have a target man in which they can deliver balls to and create chances. The withdrawal of the tall striker in the second half had a big impact on the game, as the Danes struggled to create any chance of equalising. Olsen will also be hoping that his captain will return from injury. Jon Dahl Tomasson missed the opener but he could be set for a recall. The lack of firepower up front is a cause for concern, as without Bendtner and Tomasson, the Danes just do not look like scoring.

Christan Eriksen, the youngest player at this year’s World Cup, could start the game if neither of the front two are fit. Eriksen has made a name for himself in the Dutch league as one of the rising and most exciting stars. The Ajax midfielder, if used, would bring some creativity to the team. A number of young players have announced themselves on the big stage before (Michael Owen in World Cup 98) and this could be Eriksen’s time to shine.

Denmark’s opponents Cameroon suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Japan in their first game of the tournament. The Indomitable Lions are the second highest ranked team in Group E and are meant to challenge the Danes for the second qualifying spot. Their boss Paul le Guen has questioned his team’s attitude and the on going row between former player Roger Milla and Samuel Eto’o continues to distract their preparations. The Danes have a great opportunity to pour more misery on the African outfit and secure three all-important points.

The Scandinavian outfit’s own preparations have been hit by bad weather. Torrential rain over the past few days has left their training pitch waterlogged, leaving the players to train in the gym. It is not the ideal way to prepare for an important match and a hurdle they rather not have to deal with. It is not the only thing that the players are having to change. The vuvuzelas are not everyone’s favourite instrument and it seems the players are frustrated too. Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has said the noise is so loud he cannot communicate with his defence when on the field. The keeper will do extra planning with his defenders before games, even go as far as using sign language. The trumpet is not popular with those watching the World Cup on television and there have been calls to ban the trumpets from stadiums. FIFA rejected the idea, mainly because the trumpets bring so much revenue from fans buying them.

Denmark’s opener with the Dutch did not live up to expectations with many pundits expecting a close but entertaining game. Like so many matches at this summer’s tournament, the teams are afraid of losing and they are not pushing men forward. If it was not for Daniel Agger’s own-goal (officially awarded to him now), then it might have ended 0-0, as the Danes were looking solid in defence. Now that both sides have lost, we should be in for entertaining battle with both needing a win. Qualification is currently out of their hands and they now have to rely on the Netherlands to win their remaining games. A shock win for Japan would seriously dent Denmark’s hopes.

Morten Olsen may rue the decision to let Winston Reid play for New Zealand, as he scored his nation’s first goal in a World Cup, despite originally playing for Denmark. He moved to Scandinavia when he was 10-years-old and gained citizenship in 2006. He went on to play for the under-19 and under-21 national team, but never for the national team.

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