Japan 3 – Denmark 1: Let’s go Blue Samurai!
Jacobsen, Agger, Krøldrup, S. Poulsen
C. Poulsen, Jørgensen
Rommedahl, Tomasson, Kahlenberg
34′ J Poulsen on, Jørgensen off
56′ Larsen on, Krøldrup off
63′ Eriksen on, Kahlenberg off
I’ve said it for months. Group E and Group D were the real groups of death. Anyone could qualify from our group. Anyone.
People all over the world were writing off Japan, thinking that they were a mere afterthought, but I knew they would be tricky and were just as much a threat to qualify as anyone else.
I knew that we would underestimate them at our own peril and that’s exactly what we did.
Denmark started confident with some nice measured possession football that they used to such great effect in qualifying, but two stunning free kicks later, they were reduced to a gibbering wreck and never recovered. This was probably the worst batch of football from this Danish side I have seen in a while.
That isn’t to say that Japan were lucky or “stole” this victory simply off Danish sloppy play. They had possibly one of their best matches of their entire history. They played like a team worthy of the World Cup. They played with heart, they played with fire. They made me want to cheer them on against my own team.
For all the bickering, whining about the Jubulani and how every missed free kick ever attempted is totally because the ball sucks and no one could ever hit it on target, Japan showed the world how to kick a damn free kick at goal. Endo and Honda both scored pitch perfect free kick goals that made the free kick scary again.
They went out to win this, to show that they deserved it and the harsh truth was they were right. They deserved to progress, we didn’t. We completely fell apart after the goals, we couldn’t finish to save our lives. Hell, we needed to hit the penalty twice to finally score our consolation goal. We played like shit, the whole team.
Indeed, I said last game that Jørgensen had earned himself a seat on an ice floe back to Denmark. But today, the first two goals? Despite his early subbing, I don’t believe they were his fault. He played decently in the beginning of the game, not superbly, but decently. The rest of the team, after those goals? They earned a ride home on the ice floe instead of the plane.
At the end of the match, Morten Olsen looked livid. And those of you who know our coach know that like most Danes, he keeps his emotions very cool and close to his chest. For most of the game he looked like he wanted to kill someone. When the performance is so bad that Morten Olsen looks like he wants to google group rate on carpet rolls and lime? That’s saying something.
And in addition, this is a point of history. Bad history. In every previous World Cup run for Denmark, we have progressed to the Second Round. That streak has ended and now we are just that team who has qualified four times. Let’s hope our fifth qualification leaves us with more to cheer.
Today, the boys in red disgraced the uniform and deserve to go home early. That’s all there is to say about it.
So, now that’s said, let’s talk positive.
Positive, you may ask. If I just spent 500 words ranting about how much we sucked, how can I have anything positive to say? Well, the truth is, that there was some good news this game.
Jon Dahl Tomasson may have wasted chance after chance, but the goal drought is finally over and after 2 long long years, he has finally tied the all-time goal scoring record for Denmark with 52. He has been blocked for so long that it seemed he would retire without ever managing to tie the record, much less beat it, but after long last, he has earned his trophy.
You might have sucked today, but it is a trophy well won, Tomasson. You can be proud of that.
And while Rommedahl’s fountain of youth ran out this game, leaving him completely absent the entire match, he did give us one hell of a performance against Holland and Cameroon. One final hurrah from the one-time great before likely international retirement.
Also 18 year-old Eriksen got his first World Cup run-out, getting to whet his appetite for hopefully future greatness and get used to playing on the biggest stage in the world. Take this experience Eriksen and remember it and bring it back in hopefully 4 years and show the world what you are made of.
And also, let’s not forget that there are bigger things than just the game of football (I know, sacrilege), and I think Denmark can be exceedingly proud in a tournament where some big teams (cough, cough, France) had quotes like this about them:
Apparently the unrest in the French camp is down to one man – bullied midfielder Yoann Gourcuff. When chief tormentor Franck Ribery arranged a night out at a ‘gentleman’s club’ for the French players, Gourcuff opted to stay at home. Ribery allegedly confronted him and said: “Does your mother not allow you to go, you homosexual slut?”
We brought back the human side of football. We started in preparations, working hard to promote 1 GOAL: Education for all, making it the focal point of our pre-tournament warm-up.
And when we came to South Africa, while Ribery was looking for whores and being a homophobic, misogynist asshole, the DBU brought one hell of a gift to their kind hosts at the poverty-stricken township of Knysna. Investing heavily in infrastructure, schools, and a Denmark level sports infrastructure in the township, Denmark reminded all of us about the better side of the Beautiful Game and that what is in essence a silly sport can truly touch the world on a myriad of levels.
On the pitch they may have been a disgrace this final game, but off the pitch, Denmark has been the best spokescountry for the Beautiful Game and that above all else is something to be proud of. Sure we went home early, but so did France and what did they leave behind short of disgraceful headlines?
We can be proud of trying to see outside the game and do what is right even if it didn’t win as many headlines as Anelka’s pouts or Ribery’s campaign to be the world’s biggest bastard.
So, what’s up next for Denmark World Cup Blog?
Well, Denmark is out of the tournament. We’ve got the Euro 2010 campaign to look forward to starting this fall and we can take out our frustrations by once again beating Portugal and making that smug git Christiano Ronaldo cry. We also will have another season of Superliga football to look forward to, with another run of Danish teams trying to break into the later rounds of the Champion’s League and Europa League competitions.
And we’ll probably bring some post torunament press comments, but frankly, we all know what they’ll say. Politic variations on “we sucked”, i.e. “we were full of heart, but we just weren’t good enough, fair play to the lads, etc…”
Knowing our players there won’t be any Anelka-level sulks. The most we’ll see is what we saw in the post-match where Bendtner was blubbering into his sleeve while Japan celebrated.
Denmark doesn’t really do high drama.
So does that mean it’s the end for the Denmark World Cup Blog’s commentary on this Tournament?
We may be out, done and dusted, but I feel it’s important as an underappreciated, underrated underdog of a team to support those underrated underdogs who did show they have the quality to progress to the 2nd Round. South Korea, Japan, Slovakia, even Ghana and the US to some degree. Teams many had overlooked or simply written off entirely.
As a team who have always been seen as a meaningless oversight, it’s worth supporting the better teams who have received the same treatment and as such I’ll be cheering on the underdogs for the rest of the tournament.
That’s right, we’re beginning Underdog Watch for the remainder of the tournament starting in the Round of 16.
So, please come back for that. And do cheer for the Blue Samurai. They may have crushed our dreams and history like overripe grapes, but they deserved their victory and our support in the Round of 16.
Let’s go Blue Samurai! Let’s go Underdogs!
And to close, because I want to hide our shame at the bottom of the post, the goals from the game:
And just in case anyone asks, yes, it was a penalty. Agger was shoved down from behind by a player who didn’t even bother to jump for the ball. That’s a penalty regardless of what the ESPN guys were babbling about. Did we deserve a consolation goal from our run of play? No. But it was a penalty.
We may be out, but stay tuned, this blog’s reporting is not over yet.
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