Senegal to face Danish challenge

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Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Daegu, South Korea:

Senegal's against-all-odds upset over defending world champion France comes with a slight hitch for the African World Cup rookies: greater expectations. The Senegalese normally would be underdogs against Denmark, but both teams are 1-0-0 going into Thursday's match at Daegu and the soccer landscape has changed so much in a week. No longer considered longshots to make the second round, following an impressive attacking performance in a 1-0 win over France in the tournament opener last Friday, the Africans face a proven performer in Denmark, the 1992 European champion. AC Milan-bound striker Jon Dahl Thomasson fired two goals as Denmark outclassed two-time champion Uruguay 2-1 last Saturday at Ulsan and said that was just the start. The Danes reached the quarterfinals in France four years ago, losing a tight match to Brazil after thrashing Nigeria 4-1 in the round of 16. Senegal coach Bruno Metsu said he'd readjusted his ambitions for the tournament after the win over France and hoped that the win wasn't wasted with a slack performance against the Danes. “It would be a shame, after that, if we didn't do our best against Denmark,'' he said. Since the Frenchman took over last January, Senegal has qualified for its first trip to soccer's quadrennial showpiece and reached its first ever final at the African Cup of Nations, where it lost in a penalty shootout to Cameroon. Metsu says his squad is laden with untapped potential. The streets of Dakar were swarming with celebrating fans following Senegal's win over its former colonial ruler last week and, to mark the occasion, a national holiday was declared. Despite the attention Papa Bouba Diop, who scored the first goal and only goal in the World Cup opener, said he didn't feel any added pressure ahead of his next match. Danish midfielder Stig Toefting is in doubt after injuring his foot against the Uruguayans, but team officials said his scale of his injury had been downgraded and he should be fit to take on Senegal. The winner in Daegu will virtually secure a place in the second round, while a draw would force France into a must-win situation in its last two matches to advance out of Group A. France is against Uruguay in Busan on Thursday and then faces Denmark on June 11 at Incheon in the last group match for both nations. If Senegal maintains a winning run here and against Uruguay at Suwon next Tuesday, it would likely set up a battle between France and Denmark for second place. The top team in Group A meets the second team in Group F - which contains Argentina, England, Sweden and Nigeria - in the second round, while the second-place Group A squad faces the Group F winner.

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