Monday 26 June 2017

Olsen says Denmark 'know what to do' in vital Japan clash

Japan and Denmark meet in a decider today to determine the final team from the group to advance to the next round of the tournament.

Japan need at least a draw, while Denmark must win in order to reach the round of 16. Both teams have three points from two matches, but Japan have a better goal difference.

The Netherlands have already advanced with six points, while Cameroon were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after Denmark beat the Africans 2-1.

Denmark coach Morten Olsen views the match against Japan at Royal Bafokeng Stadium as a "final" and said the team is confident. "It's a decisive game and hopefully the first final for us," he said. "We know what to do."

But Olsen admits it will be tough against Japan, who beat Cameroon 1-0 in their first game, with a goal by midfielder Keisuke Honda securing their first World Cup victory on foreign soil. Japan then lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in their second match.

"It is difficult to score goals nowadays when you play defensive teams," Olsen said.

Denmark were on the brink of being eliminated against Cameroon, going a goal down before coming from behind with goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Dennis Rommedahl. Denmark lost their opening match to the Netherlands 2-0.

Japan did reach the round of 16 as co-hosts at the 2002 World Cup.

"The coach has told us that in life you only get a few opportunities to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup and told us to give it our all," captain Makoto Hasebe said.

The 26-year-old midfielder added the team "will head into the game in a positive frame of mind".

Denmark may be without Bendtner, with Olsen saying the forward hasn't fully recovered from a groin injury. "Bendtner is still doubtful for the Japan game," Olsen said. "There are always players who have problems and this will continue to be, regardless of how far we go in the tournament."

Irish Independent

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