It is now 18 years since Denmark shocked world football by winning the 1992 European Championships and, with an inexperienced squad that failed to reach the 2006 World Cup or Euro 2008, the Danes still have a long way to go before they can hope to repeat the momentous achievement of Peter Schmeichel and company.

But they are certainly on the rise again and will be back among the big boys this summer, making their third World Cup appearance. The Danes reached the quarter-finals back in 1998 and the second round in 1986 and 2002.

The current crop are showing promising signs. Topping a qualifying group that contained Portugal and familiar foe Sweden demands respect and the team conceded just five goals in the process. This summer, the Danes find themselves in an intriguing Group E with Holland, Cameroon and Japan.

The Coach

Morten Olsen (DEN)
60 years old

Morten Olsen is one of the longest serving coaches heading to South Africa this summer. He has been in the hotseat since 2000 and the Danes have kept faith with Olsen despite their qualifying setbacks in recent years.

Looking ahead to the World Cup, Olsen remarked: ‘We have to ensure we have our best players in South Africa and that we’re in good shape when we get there. If we manage that, we’ll have a strong team. Denmark will not be one of the favourites but, if we have our best players available, which wasn’t the case in the qualification phase, we can achieve a lot.’

Players to watch

Daniel Agger
25 years old
Liverpool (ENG)

Hampered by injuries in recent years, Agger remains a classy centre back when fit and his Champions League experience for Liverpool will be vital for the Danes. Comfortable in possession and with a good turn of pace, Agger will be expected to subdue the likes of Robin van Persie and Samuel Eto’o in the group stage and organise those around him.



Christian Poulsen
30 years old
Defensive midfielder
Juventus (ITA)

Poulsen is arguably the Danes’ most influential figure and his ability to dictate the tempo from a deep lying midfield role will determine whether the team squeezes into the knockout rounds. A fierce competitor with invaluable experience, he is at the heart of all Denmark’s best moves. He will be spurred on by the fact that this could be his last World Cup.

Nicklas Bendtner
22 years old
Arsenal (ENG)

Bendtner heads to South Africa in the best form of his career after finally winning over the majority of the Arsenal fans with an end of season scoring streak. He has blossomed on the international stage and will be relied upon to provide the bulk of Denmark’s goals. He is now more mature and is a vastly improved performer, capable of hurting defences aerially and on the deck.

Simon Kjaer
21 years old
Palermo (ITA)

Kjaer is not yet a household name, but that may all change this summer, with a number of big clubs monitoring him closely. He has impressed many with his development in Serie A for Palermo and his partnership with Agger provides goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen with outstanding protection. If he continues his rise, the Danes could have one of the most underrated rearguards in the tournament.

The view from Denmark:

Coach Olsen has done his best to portray Denmark as underdogs in Group E – and that is probably the case. The Danes’ first objective was to be involved in a major tournament after a six-year absence and, with that goal accomplished, many fans would consider qualifying from the group stage to be a major success, regardless of how much further they go.


While Holland look clear favourites to top the group, second spot is certainly attainable for the Danes. Olsen’s side are superior to the Japanese and so it will be a straight shootout between Denmark and Cameroon for the second qualifying spot. It is sure to be extremely tight, but the Danes may just lose out, especially with Cameroon eager to impress on their home continent.

Did you know?

Denmark showed their grit and character by winning away to Portugal and Sweden in their qualifying group for the World Cup.

Group games

14/06/10: Denmark  0 – 2  Holland     –   Soccer City, Johannesburg
19/06/10: Denmark  2 – 1  Cameroon     –   Tshwane/Pretoria
24/06/10: Denmark  1 – 3  Japan     –   Rustenburg