Denmark Camp Focus – Rommedahl fires Denmark to victory over Cameroon

Denmark boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup by beating Group E opponents Cameroon. In the process of their win they knocked out the African side to become the first casualty of the tournament. A man-of-the-match performance by winger Dennis Rommedahl helped his team to come from behind to win 2-1.

Head Coach Morten Olsen made two changes from their opening match, with Jesper Gronkjaer and Jon Dahl Tomasson replacing Thomas Kahlenberg and Tomas Enevoldsen. With Rommedahl on the right and Gronkjaer on the left, it enabled the Reds to get more crosses into the box. The inclusion of two wingers demanded a more attacking display. The Danes made a sluggish start to the game and Christian Poulsen’s lazy pass allowed Cameroon to capitalise and take an early lead. It was yet again an example of Denmark’s slack defending. They were too confident passing the ball amongst themselves and Poulsen paid the price. Kjaer was guilty of this in the previous game but luckily for him it did not cost his side a goal.

Denmark’s equaliser came courtesy of a wonderful long diagonal ball by Kjaer to Rommedahl, who crossed the ball across goal for Bendtner who calmly poked in. It was certainly one of the goals of the competition so far and Kjaer’s performance will enhance his reputation even further, generating yet more interest in him. Both sides could of taken a half-time lead with Rommedahl latching on to an Alex Song mistake and Jon Dahl Tomasson’s shot was blocked. Samuel Eto’o then hit the post, again through poor Danish defending. The second-half saw an improvement in the Reds defending and they took the lead thanks to Rommedahl. His goal that gave the Danes the lead was a wonderful piece of individual skill. He took on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who gave him too much space, and with his left foot curled the ball past the keeper into the net. Over his career he has been a hit and miss player (just ask any Charlton Athletic fan), but he is definitely playing some of his best football at this moment of time. The Danes defended deeply as the half drew to close and thanks to a fantastic save by Thomas Sorensen, they hung on to the victory.

The one disappointing aspect of the match was the yellow card picked up by Kjaer. It now means he will miss his nation’s crunch game with Japan on Thursday after picking up two bookings. His suspension will mean Per Kroldrup is likely to replace him in the heart of the defence. Other than that the game was highly entertaining, with many pundits claiming it to be one the best so far. Before the game it was debated as to whether both teams would go for it or sit back and wait for an opening. In the end both went for it and Denmark came out on top. With the local fans behind their African counterparts, the Danes were certainly outnumbered in the crowd and must have felt like the away team. Their victory is even more impressive as they came from behind and could easily have fallen further behind as the Lions were on top in the early stages.

Injury problems have disrupted Olsen’s preparations for this summer’s tournament. A number of key players have missed training over the past few months and the Coach has had to deal with replacing them with reserve players. Ideally he would have liked Bendtner, his star player, to be fit and raring to go, but his fitness has hampered any chance of that happening. The Captain, Tomasson, came into the World cup with an injury and star defender Kjaer was unlucky in picking up an injury during a friendly. Tomasson managed to last 85 minutes and Bendtner completed his first World cup match last night though.

Left-back Simon Poulsen admitted in the run up to the game that his part in the own-goal still haunts him. His header, which deflected in off Daniel Agger, set the Netherlands on their way to victory. The Danes never recovered from it after an impressive first-half performance. Olsen backed his defender after the defeat but Poulsen’s frame of mind could have caused his team some problems.

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