Nils Nielsen grateful for the chance to keep testing his team

Following their shoot-out win over Australia for the third place in this year’s Algarve Cup, we spoke to Denmark coach Nils Nielsen about the match and his goals for the Euros.


Having been on the back foot for large spells of the game, Denmark’s late rally and win spoke to the grit of the Scandinavian team as well as regular tournament fatigue, “I think both teams were a little bit tired but it’s always nice for us to play the top teams in the world because we really need to step up and in the beginning of the match we made some mistakes and Australia was taking advantage and in the second-half we tried really hard to work our way back. I’m happy with the chances we created and the goal of course – it’s a really nice goal Pernille [Harder] scored.

A bronze is a nice thing to go home with but for Nielsen the chance to play a range of top sides from all around the word is the best he could ask for, “It’s more about getting to play top teams, of course when I saw the group I thought we had a decent chance of winning two of the matches; in the first match against Canada they scored right and the end and if they hadn’t we would have been in the final and that would have been the first time for year.

"Of course we were hoping to do well in the tournament but the main thing is to get different kinds of matches so you can try different players and that’s what this tournament is all about – if you get the chance of course you’re going to try and win it but it you’re eleventh or twelfth it doesn’t really matter.

Lesson for Holland

Having scored 12 goals over two games – something not typical for the Danes – the coach is happy that his team is in fine form and knows there is always a lesson to be learned and positives to be taken in any match, “It’s always difficult to score goals and winning big is something you can always use no matter which team you play because it’s hard to keep focus and keep scoring when the game is over.

"Against Portugal it was over very early, the match against Russia was different because they were working hard defensively and it was very tough so we had to try and find different solutions so we got a lot out of it. Scoring so many goals, it wasn’t about winning or losing because we’d already won the match but the thing was to think ‘how can we open this team?’”

With the Euros coming up and Denmark drawn in a mouth-watering group, Nielsen knows it won’t be a walk in the park for his team but remains optimistic about their chances in Holland, “I would never go to a tournament saying we won’t try our very best to go through from the group and that is the goal for us, we know we’re not one of the favourites but we also know we have a strong team that on the day we can beat anybody.

"In this Algarve tournament we’ve beaten Japan, USA, Canada before so we know on the day we can be really good so we have high hopes – but at the same time we know we’re not the favourites so we have to stick to the plan, work really hard, don’t give anything away and then we have a chance.”