Football: Denmark fear Irish air force

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The Independent Online
The capital was grey and drizzly yesterday, but Town Hall Square was decked in green, white and orange as Irish supporters mixed cheerfully with smiling Danes, both groups hoping that today's World Cup Group Three qualifying tie is an occasion to remember.

Denmark are European champions, but the Republic lead the group. The Danes are in some turmoil after 0-0 draws in Latvia and Lithuania. 'We are more accustomed to being the underdogs and it was difficult to take the other role,' Manchester United's Peter Schmeichel claimed.

The Republic beat both Latvia and Albania, and have two more points in a seven-nation group in which the original favourites to qualify were Denmark and Spain. Not for the first time, the Irish have upset the calculations, and the Danes know they have to win here this evening in the new national stadium. The 41,000 seats were sold a month ago and a ticket from the touts could cost up to pounds 200.

The Danish selection includes only one specialist striker and a packed midfield although their coach, Richard Moller Nielsen, points out that Brian Laudrup is also quite capable of scoring goals.

The pitch, heavily sanded, is another threat to the Danes and their flowing, passing game. Jack Charlton kept his players practising for an extra 30 minutes so that they could attune themselves to the erratic bounce.

Although Charlton is without Mick McCarthy, Ronnie Whelan, Paul McGrath and John Byrne, he can still field a formidable side. As Bernie Slaven has also withdrawn it seems certain that the Irish air force will again take off with Niall Quinn and John Aldridge in the bombadiers' seats.

Kevin Sheedy remains doubtful and the Irish practised yesterday with Eddie McGoldrick on the right. Central defence will be manned by the newly capped Alan Kernaghan and the veteran Kevin Moran, who have done much for Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

The midfield, with Andy Townsend and Roy Keane, holds unlimited possibilities while the Danes are rumoured to be taking special precautions to mark Quinn. But it is the ensuing gaps that Aldridge is expected to exploit.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (probable): Bonner (Celtic); Irwin (Manchester Utd), Moran (Blackburn), Kernaghan (Middlesbrough), Phelan (Manchester City), McGoldrick (Crystal Palace), Keane (Nottingham Forest), Townsend (Chelsea), Houghton (Aston Villa), Quinn (Manchester City), Aldridge (Tranmere).

DENMARK (probable): Schmeichel (Manchester Utd); Sivebaek (Pescara), L Olsen (Seraing), Piechnik (Liverpool), Vilfort (Brondby), Heintze (PSV Eindhoven), Larsen (Pisa), Jensen (Arsenal), B Laudrup (Fiorentina), Povlsen (Borussia Dortmund), Christensen (Schalke 04).

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