Saturday, June 06, 2009

Denmark to South Africa

Perhaps it is a bit premature and too optimistic for the carefully cautious Danish mentality, but I can simply not see it go wrong: Denmark will qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa! After winning 1-0 against Sweden in Stockholm tonight, Denmark has cemented its lead in Group 1 with 16 points ahead of Hungary, Portugal and Sweden. There are four matches left, three of which are at home in Copenhagen, so it all seems set for the Danes. I have a difficult time seeing how it could go wrong, even more as I consider that the other teams will be taking points away from one another as they fight for the spoils.

The match between Sweden and Denmark was not particularly good. The Danes were better organised and intelligent than a Swedish side that really proved inefficient, showing why they have have such a poor score in the qualification so far. Sweden is a team that needs renewal, and it does not seem readily available; as they are now, they belong at the bottom of European football. Denmark was nevertheless lucky today (with Thomas Sørensen saving a penalty and Thomas Kahlenberg's goal coming after a grave defensive mistake), and one could argue that they have been lucky in the qualification so far, in particular following the win against Portugal in Lisbon.
But this is to simplify the truth: Morten Olsen has skillfully created a solid team that takes advantage of the other teams' weaknesses and gets the best out of players that are otherwise no super-stars. That is a true achievements, and I am certain that Denmark will be one of the teams to avoid in the South African World Cup: they do not look overly scary with only limited stars, but can defeat anyone if the opponent makes a mistake (surely something the Swedes were formerly known for).
That is not luck, but it is skill.
Denmark will surely be in South Africa next year, and I am looking forward to it!

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