Denmark Camp Focus – Olsen seeks Denmark improvement

Head Coach Morten Olsen wants an improved performance when his side take on Japan in their must-win Group E match. Denmark came from behind to beat Cameroon 2-1 in a game littered with errors by both teams. The Indomitable Lions opener came courtesy of a lazy pass by Christian Paulsen, which was intercepted and led to Samuel Eto’o scoring. This was not an isolated incident, as the Danes were fortunate not to concede again after a mix of poor passing and lack of concentration led to numerous chances for their opponents to take the lead. Olsen was left unimpressed and told reporters: “We made far too many elementary mistakes and I cannot allow that from my players.”

Daniel Agger also attacked his team’s display, claiming it as one of their worst ever: “Particularly in the first half, it was one of the worst performances we’ve given in a long time, our transitions were poor, we didn’t cover well.” Two of the three goals Denmark have conceded so far in South Africa have been through individual errors and another defensive mistake could cost them a place in the second round of the World Cup.

Despite this, the Danes managed to hold on to the victory and pick up their first points of the campaign. Dennis Rommedahl played one of his best games ever as he contributed with an assist and the winning goal. Rommedahl was the stand-out performer from what was a disappointing Danish display. The Ajax winger is a regular starter under Olsen but has failed to deliver consistently. In his last two games he has started to show signs that he is capable of performing on the big stage. There is no doubt that his nation will need him to be on top form again on Thursday. Rommedahl was able to create chances out of nothing and he still has the speed to out-run defenders. The Reds squandered numerous amounts of efforts on goal, which they may regret heading into their crunch game with Japan. Captain Jon Dahl Tomasson was guilty of squandering opportunities to further their lead. Perhaps his lack of match fitness affected him, or the fact that he has not scored an international goal for over two years. He is only two goals away from becoming Denmark’s all-time top goal scorer in their history – with 51 goals, he is just behind Poul Nielsen’s tally of 52. His lack of goals does not seem to worry the Head Coach, as his experience and presence as captain appears to be enough to select him.

If Denmark had scored one more goal then they would only need a draw in their final game. They did not manage that and now they must win against the Asian outfit to progress. The Japanese surprised many with a victory over Cameroon in their opening game. They narrowly lost to the Netherlands, giving themselves a great chance of achieving second place. The upcoming match will be a tough one for the Danes, as Japan tend to defend deep and make it hard for the opposition to create efforts on goal. They also only need a point, which means they will not have to attack and push numbers forward. It will be a tight affair in Rustenburg, but one the Danes can win.

There are no fresh injury’s to report but of course there are still the on going fitness doubts over several players. Nicklas Bendter, who scored the equaliser against Cameroon, managed to last the full 90 minutes and he should be fit for the next game. Tomasson was substituted late on and Daniel Jensen came on in the second-half but they should also be fit. The Danes will be without Simon Kjaer after he collected his second yellow card of the tournament. Per Kroldrup is widely expected to deputise for the Palermo defender, as he did so during their warm up games. Kroldrup is experienced enough to cope with the pressure and Olsen will have no hesitation in naming him in the team.

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