World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, June 24, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Denmark (1-1-0) vs. Japan (1-1-0), 2:30 p.m.
Rustenburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Many times the build up to the
final match of the group stage is filled with various scenarios that would
determine what a given team would need to do in order to advance to the next
But everything is pretty straightforward regarding Thursday's Group E match at
Royal Bafokeng Stadium between Japan and Denmark.
The Netherlands have already secured a spot in the next round, and it needs
only a draw against already-eliminated Cameroon to secure first place.
That leaves the match between Denmark and Japan to determine the other team
that will join the Dutch in the next round, and with both sides level on three
points, the equation is pretty simple.
Whichever team wins the match will go through, while a draw would benefit
Japan because it holds a slight edge in goal difference.
However, Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is confident that his team will get
the job done on Thursday after its 2-1 win over Cameroon last time out.
"We're now in the position we'd hoped to be in, with our destiny in our own
hands," Bendtner said. "We need to beat Japan to qualify, but if we were able
to defeat a good team like Cameroon, I don't see why we won't be able to beat
the Japanese, even if we know it'll be difficult."
One thing that will make life tougher on the Danes is the absence of central
defender Simon Kjaer, who received his second yellow card in two games last
match and will be serving a one-game suspension.
Japan will be trying to rebound from a 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands in its
last match, but it can still fulfill the bold prediction of their manager,
Takeshi Okada, who was heavily criticized by the Japanese media for saying
that he expects his team to reach the semifinals.
The Japanese have reached the round of 16 just once before, when they were co-
hosts in 2002, and while the semifinals might be a bit of a stretch, a berth
in the second round would certainly be well received back home.
06/23 13:10:13 ET