Football

Denmark must guard against complacency in World Cup play-off with Ireland

WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF, FIRST LEG
DENMARK IRELAND

Denmark legend Peter Schmeichel has expressed his fear that his compatriots will underestimate their World Cup play-off opponents tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

His worry stems from the fact that several of the Ireland players ply their trade in the second tier of English football.

Of those, Middlesbrough's Darren Randolph and Cyrus Christie and Aston Villa's Glenn Whelan are expected to start in the first leg in Copenhagen.

Schmeichel, whose son Kasper is expected to start in the Danish goal, told the Irish Mirror: "My worry is some of the Danish players don't know how good the Championship is.

"There are a lot of Championship players in the Ireland team and our players could go out there thinking 'sure, they play only in the second tier of English football'.

"They have got to be reminded that the Championship is the fifth-richest league in the world.

"I hope they don't think that way. There are a lot of England-based players in our team like Kasper, Christian Eriksen, Andreas Christensen from Chelsea and Huddersfield Town pair Jonas Lossl and Mathias Jorgensen so, hopefully, they get the message across."

Denmark's Norwegian coach Age Hareide is certainly not falling into the trap of complacency though.

The former Norway international and Manchester City defender have been to Ireland on many occasions during this career, and is well aware of the Irish "fighting spirit".

The 64-year-old, whose team finished second - behind Poland - in Group E during the group phase, told the Irish Independent: "I have watched the videos of Ireland many times.

DISCIPLINED IRELAND

"I have seen the Wales game and I also saw them against France at the Euros last year. France had problems breaking them down.

"That is the strongest point Ireland have, they are well-organised defensively and work hard together.

"Their discipline is excellent. We have to work on our own game, take the match to them."

Former Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton warned of a tough task ahead for his countrymen, who will go into the game as the underdogs.

Ireland finished second in Group D, behind Serbia, during the group phase.

Expecting manager Martin O'Neill to play a pragmatic game, the ex-Liverpool man said: "Even if we were to lose the game one-nil, with that Aviva roar and crowd on Tuesday behind the players it would drive them on.

"The last two occasions that we've played away first in play-offs, we've gone on to qualify so that all bodes well."

The second leg will take place in Dublin next Wednesday. - WIRE SERVICES

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