Danmark`'They are a beautiful country'!! That's the translation of the title of the national anthem, sung with gusto by a sell out crowd at Århus Stadion tonight for Danmark v Belarus.
It was a make or break match for the young Danes after the earlier Group A match in Aalborg finished 2-0 for Switzerland over Iceland and 6 points for the Swiss. I arrived at Århus station, which is pretty big with a shopping mall, and had my breakfast at McDonalds then strolled down Strøget to The Fan Zone which was just opening, with a big beer tent, snacks, sovenir stalls, soccer games for kids and more.
In the evening the fans, The Roligans as Danish national team ones are called, were to march the 2 km to the stadium. I had visited the tourist office then the stadium and the Media Officer NIELS FRYDENLUND was SUPER HELPFUL answering my queries about local and national transport, and more. UEFA are lucky they have him in charge, and his volunteers couldn't have be more accommodating.
I went to the seaside for the Sculpure by the Sea www.sculpturebythesea.dk. I love great sculptures, particularly ones that kids can crawl over and explore, and there were some great views of the harbour, a small beach and all in bright sunshine. I went through a beautiful wooded park with picnicers and lovers and kids playing and lots of cyclists. You can have death by cyclists if you are not careful and don't pay attention. They come at you like wasps from all directions and it is very hazardous, but keeps you on your toes.
Anyway back at the stadium we had a match to watch. I met up with my friend Alexander Schmidt of TSV 1860 Munich, who was sitting with 24 of his buddies including Stefan Effenberg, Mehmet Scholl, Worms, Boehme, Dammer .. and others working the match as part of their 10 month UEFA A licence coaching course. They spend Monday to Wednesday at Hennef near Koln and go back to their clubs for the rest of the week for TEN MONTHS, then I guess they can ask for a pay raise!! I had some gifts for Francesco, his 8 year old boy who loves Man Utd, but could only offer the other guys MY AUTOGRAPH!!
Belarus or Weisrussland had already beaten Iceland 2-0 and started strongly. The sun was in our eyes to start with, and you are not close up since there is a track around the pitch. It's the home of AGF, 'The Whites', who are happy that their club was only relegated for one season and is now back amongst the elite. Tweny minutes and doom and gloom. the men from Minsk take the lead from Dmitri Baga with an easy flick. Blink and hope for the best, and 90 seconds later it was 1-1 from a penalty. Christian Eriksen of Ajax hit it straight at the goalie but it came back and he slotted it in. He has already played 15 times for the full national team. Where was Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal? Well, he just had his first child and asked to be left out.
Not sure if it was a penalty. We have had the problem so far of the referee and two assistants and 4th official from different countries. This occasion, Italy, Greece, Finland, Serbia. What a combination!. At most internationals, Champions League, Europa League matches you now have teams of 4 from the same country working together for years.
Late in the second half the Danes started to believe in themselves and after 71 minutes Nicolai Jorgensen of Bayern Leverkusen was the hero. He curled in a beauty and the crowd of 18,152 went home happy and look forward to the match up with already eliminated Iceland in Aalborg on Saturday.