Danes czech in with a draw

Despite dominating much of the match, Denmark made a disappointing start to the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign after only getting a point against the Czech Republic

After a poor showing against Slovakia in a recent friendly, coupled with star striker Nicklas Bendtner’s ban for his infamous pants stunt, Danish fans could be forgiven for being apprehensive about their team taking on a Czech team that progressed past the group stage in this summer’s Euro 2012.

But it was a revitalized Danish squad who took to the field on Saturday night knowing that they needed a result against the Czechs at home if they want to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. That’s because the next two games are Bulgaria and Italy, both away.

Young Nicolai Jørgensen, who FC Copenhagen signed permanently yesterday after a brief loan period from Bayer Leverkusen, was the man given the arduous task of replacing Denmark’s only quality striker up front, and although he worked tirelessly, it was clear that he favoured the wide position.

Michael Krohn-Dehli, Simon Kjær, Christian Eriksen and a looping header from Dennis Rommedahl all went close to giving the Danes the lead in the first half but luck and the world class Czech keeper Petr Cech stood in the way.

The Danes continued to dominate in the second half and Jørgensen fluffed his shot after getting an opening inside the box. Substitute Leon Andreasen headed over from two yards out while an Eriksen free kick forced Cech to make another save at his near post.

But the Czechs had come for a draw and as time continued to tick off the scoreboard in Parken, it became apparent that it was just one of those days for Denmark. And when Cech made another solid save on a powerful Andreasen effort, the draw became a reality.

Coach Morten Olsen was pleased with the way his team played but was disappointed in not being able to break the deadlock.

“We are all disappointed at not getting the ball across the goal line, especially when you look at the stats,” Olsen told TV2 Sporten. “We look at it critically, but also positively because we created so many chances. Now there are two away games ahead of us with different conditions, but there are always new players coming in so there are more to choose from.”

Olsen can take other positives out from the match too. Leon Andreasen hadn’t played football for two years due to chronic injuries and he gave the Danes some power and drive in the second half. Also much-criticized Simon Kjær hardly put a foot wrong or lost a header and looks to be part of a formidable defensive constellation along side Daniel Agger. Also 19 year-old Andreas Cornelius came on in the second half and looks an able Bendtner replacement in the future.

With the draw, Denmark and Czech Republic have one point and are tied with Italy and Bulgaria, who drew 2-2, and are ahead of Malta, but behind leaders Armenia.

Next game is Bulgaria away on October 12, while they go to Italy four days later on October 16.

In other news, Morten Weighorst and his Denmark’s under-21 team beat Northern Ireland 3-0 on Monday night, which qualifies them for the playoffs in their bid to reach the European Championships. The draw takes place on Friday and Weighorst said that he hopes to avoid Spain, Germany and France.