COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark were well up for the physical challenge posed by World Cup playoff opponents Ireland in Saturday’s scoreless draw in Copenhagen, and they won’t be intimidated in the second leg in Dublin either, defender Simon Kjaer has told Reuters.
Irish goalkeeper Darren Randolph pulled off a number of fine saves to keep the Danes at bay in a game that will be remembered more for its fighting spirit than its footballing skill.
“I think we matched them in that part of the game. We were ready for the hard tackles and a lot of duels,” Kjaer said ahead of the second leg on Tuesday.
“We are not afraid or concerned about that part of the game, the physical end. This is also one of our strengths.”
Kjaer was not surprised that the Irish came for a draw and barely ventured forward in the first leg.
“Not at all. With half an hour left of the game, they just smashed the ball up to (Denmark goalkeeper Kasper) Schmeichel and then just stayed there. They came with what we expected,” he said.
“We are very confident and very calm about the result (in Copenhagen). We had the chances to score, they only had one chance, so I’m very relaxed and confident and positive for our game in Dublin.”
Kjaer expects to see more attacking intent from Martin O’Neill’s side at the Aviva Stadium.
“I hope they come up a little bit longer away from their own goal. It will give us a little more space, but of course they will come with a lot of optimism and try to intimidate us a little bit,” the 28-year-old said.
“I don’t think they can keep us from scoring in two games. We will have our chances - we will just have to take them.”
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond