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Dublin: 9°C Friday 7 May 2021

Denmark assistant boss and former Milan striker expecting more 'difficult' games with Ireland

Jon Dahl Tomasson says it will be a different Irish team under Mick McCarthy.

Denmark's assistant manager Jon Dahl Tomasson (file pic).
Denmark's assistant manager Jon Dahl Tomasson (file pic).
Image: Mike Egerton

- Paul Fennessy reports from the Convention Centre

DENMARK ASSISTANT BOSS Jon Dahl Tomasson is expecting a tough game when Ireland meet his team in the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.

The Danes have faced the Irish side no less than four times in just over 12 months.

The Irish team’s 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat to Åge Hareide’s men at the Aviva Stadium in November of last year was the standout match and an anomaly, with the three other matches all ending 0-0, including last month’s Nations League fixture in Aarhus.

The teams will meet twice more for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, and Tomasson insists he is not wary at the prospect of facing these familiar foes once again.

“I enjoy coming back. It’s a lovely place,” the former Milan and Newcastle striker said at today’s draw in Dublin.

Since the teams’ meeting last month, Martin O’Neill has departed as Ireland coach, and the Danish assistant manager was not too surprised by this outcome.

“Always in football, things go fast. If we don’t win games, then we change. It’s the normal way of acting in football.”

With McCarthy now at the helm, Tomasson is expecting a degree of change from the Irish team, but feels their fundamental way of playing is unlikely to differ substantially.

“With new people, there’ll be change. But as I said before, you can’t change the players, you have a [select] amount of players, and they still have to perform on the pitch.

“But of course the spirit, and when you change things, a bit of trust is coming in and people are going for it.

We had three really difficult games where we didn’t score. Ireland were defending really well, they did a really good job defending in those games. We had difficulty breaking them down. We had chances but we didn’t make goals.”

And irrespective of the outcome of today’s draw, Tomasson said he felt his side were good enough to qualify.

“I’m always positive and I believe in our strength in ourselves regardless of which team we are playing.”

As their number two’s confident tone suggests, expectations in Denmark will be high as second seeds in the group. They were undoubtedly the better side in all of the recent matches with Ireland, who have not beaten the Danes in a competitive fixture since a John Giles-managed team prevailed 2-0 in Dublin in 1979.

Moreover, with Copenhagen one of the 12 host cities at Euro 2020, like Ireland, they will be determined not to miss the party in their own backyard.

Of the five-team group, Tomasson added: “I was happy that we don’t have to travel [long distances], especially regarding the players. All the players are playing a lot of games. Last time when we played World Cup [qualifiers], we went to Kazakhstan — that’s a long flight. So I’m happy about that.

“Switzerland are an excellent side, Ireland are good as well, so it’s a tough group.” 

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Paul Fennessy

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