The glory days of Peter Schmeichel and Laudrups are distant memories, but, after a generation of disappointments, things are starting to look up for the Danes. Having topped a difficult group that included local rivals Sweden and much-fancied Portugal, hopes are high that they progress from the evenly-matched Group E. Netherlands are group favourites, but Denmark should take second.
With more than a decade in the job, head coach Olsen brings stability and familiarity to the tournament that could keep the nation’s focus on the pitch rather than in the dug-out. Failure to progress, though, may be the final straw for a manager who is widely adored by Danish supporters.
Player to watch
Denmark’s hopes lie in defence and, seeing as Liverpool’s Daniel Agger’s youthful promise is in danger of turning into mid-career mediocrity, a lot lies on the shoulders of Simon Kjaer. Champions League regulars Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid have already expressed an interest in buying the blond giant off Palermo, and Tottenham Hotspur failed with an GBP11million (more than Dhs60million) bid to land him in January. A couple of good performances during the World Cup could see blank cheques flying his way.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 4
Previous best: Quarter-finals, 1998
Odds of winning: 125/1
Strange but true: Denmark’s travelling supporters are known as the Roligans because of their good-nature. The name is a combination of the word ‘rolig’ meaning ‘calm’, and ‘hooligan’, meaning quite the opposite.
Fixtures: Netherlands, June 14, 3.30pm, Johannesburg Cameroon, June 19, 10.30pm, Pretoria Japan, June 24, 10.30pm, Rustenburg