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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 round.

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

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