KNYSA, South Africa – Towering striker Nicklas Bendtner reckons Denmark packs enough aerial punch to floor Japan and secure a place in the round of 16 in Thursday’s must-win clash in Rustenburg.
Needing only a point to advance, Japan has the upper hand going into the final Group E game and is likely to defend en masse and stifle the Scandinavians in its bid to reach the knockout phase for only the second time.
“Japan is a good team and very defensive, but I believe in the strength we have and have a good feeling. I would be bitterly disappointed if we didn’t win,” the 22-year-old Bendtner told reporters before Tuesday’s training session.
“We won’t look at them, we will be looking at ourselves. We know we have to score. But if we can hold the ball up and use the height we have in offense, then I believe that could break any defense down,” added the 194-cm Arsenal striker.
When asked by a Japanese television crew whether Denmark’s height would be an advantage against the slightly smaller Japanese, coach Morten Olsen quipped, “You have a couple of defenders that are 185 (cm) and 187. Maybe they just need to jump a bit higher.”
Denmark beat Cameroon 2-1 on Saturday in Pretoria after losing its opener 2-0 to the already qualified Netherlands and is tied with the Japanese on three points but with an inferior goal difference.