Not hitting their level
Individually and collectively well below their capabilities in Breda, Denmark will have 90 minutes in Viborg to turn their 2-0 loss to the European champions around. Blunted in attack, Arnth knows her team have so much more to show.
“We just need to get up on our level with the ball and our offensive play because we know we have a lot more potential than we showed. We were trying to get the away goal, but we didn’t so we have to rethink and see what we can for the next game.”
Markedly better in the second half, the defender admits there wasn’t anything too special said over the half time break, just to keep believing in themselves.
“We said we have to be better on the ball, to keep making the runs and believing. It was pretty much back to basics.”
After the glory of a run to the Euro 2017 final, the Danish team has been up and down both on and off the pitch, despite the ructions between DBU and Spillerforeningen, the centre back admits her focus from football never wavered.
“It wasn’t hard to focus at all. And I feel that the group is getting stronger after the what we’ve been through.”
Having forfeited their first qualification game against group top seed, Sweden, Denmark pulled themselves back into the race for top spot, an uncharacteristic Swedish loss to the Ukraine a boost. A last-gasp draw against Croatia a bump in the road before the Red and White fell to a loss in Viborg as Sweden kept their perfect attendance record at the World Cup, the play-offs a shot at redemption for the Danes.
“We’re getting tighter and more focused on what we needed to do and then we got the chance against Sweden and then the chance against the Netherlands, so we have to still believe and keep hitting the level we have in this team. We just need to focus and keep believing.”
Aside from the contract disputes, the Scandinavian side have seen a change at the top as Nils Nielsen departed his post as coach, the team still needing time to get the feel for new coach, Søndergaard
“It’s been new, but I think he’s coming with a good balance from Nils and I like what he’s trying to teach us, but it is a process between the coach and the team and we still have to keep working. I think Lars is doing well to give us a better balance in our play, but we have to step up because we didn’t show that against the Netherlands, so we have to step up.”
With a quick turn-around before their second leg against the Dutch, the Danes are still just taking things one step at a time.
“We take one step at a time and we think we did the right thing on the way, so we just take the next step and the next step is the match on Tuesday and then we have to see what happens after that.”
Coming into the play-off, the pendulum was fully swung in favour of the Dutch. The hosts not just having bested the Danes three times in the last 15 months with most of the same players still around in both squads but in their last seven meetings. The last time Denmark won back in 2006, something not known by the veteran defender.
Although Arnth admits even if she was aware of Denmark’s recent poor form against the European champions, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to her.
“I didn’t about stuff like that before I get on the pitch, they might have won against us but I don’t care, it’s a new game, history isn’t important. It’s another chance, another opportunity, I don’t care how the Euro final ended – but it’s a lot of the same players so we know what to expect so that’s nice, but we have to learn and see what we did right and wrong in those games.”