DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When Denmark meet tunisia in the world cup On Tuesday, he will pit one of the strongest critics of the Qatar-hosted tournament against one of the four Arab nations in competition.
The match at Education City Stadium will also mark Christian Eriksen’s return to a major tournament following his cardiac arrest. at the European Championship last year.
Denmark have ambitious goals after a semi-final at Euro 2020 followed by a near-perfect qualifying campaign, while Tunisia are looking to emerge from the group stage for the first time in their sixth Cup appearance of the world.
Since arriving in Qatar, Denmark has been training in all-black kits to mourn migrant workers who died building infrastructure for the tournament.
Denmark also planned to wear the ‘One Love’ anti-discrimination armband with other European teams before the campaign was scrapped when FIFA threatened to hand out yellow cards.
“Imagine going onto the pitch with a clear yellow card to start with. It’s not possible and we have to make sure it’s not up to the players to make that decision,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said.
Tunisian coach Jalal Kadri also addressed the issue of the armband.
“We are in an Arab country with a Muslim tradition. We must respect other people’s culture,” Kadri said in Arabic through an interpreter. “We are here in Qatar and I think the policy in Qatar is to respect everyone’s culture and religious beliefs.”
Danish Football Union sporting director Peter Møller has criticized the way FIFA President Gianni Infantino lectured the media. on the eve of the tournament for attacking Qatar’s human rights record and defending the host country’s last-minute decision to ban beer in stadiums.
“Some of the things he said that I don’t agree with. He talks to journalists and American federations,” Møller said.
“On the one hand I’m surprised but on the other hand it’s saying something that he used a whole speech to discuss what we and other federations are fighting against so he knows well that’s a hot potato and that he has to process it the next time a host is chosen,” Møller added.
Also last week, Qatari organizers apologized to a Danish TV channel whose live broadcast from a street in Doha was interrupted by security guards who threatened to break the camera equipment; while the left-leaning Danish newspaper Information announced that it would not be covering the World Cup at all in protest at Qatar’s policies.
Eriksen’s return, however, remains one of the tournament’s most emotional stories, less than 18 months after medics used a defibrillator to restart his heart as a horrified nation – and much of the world of football – watched him lifeless on the pitch at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
It’s the latest leg of a remarkable comeback that has already seen Eriksen return to elite Premier League football, first with London club Brentford and then with Manchester United, showing he’s still doing some of the best point guards in the world. He made his national team return in March, scoring two minutes after coming on as a substitute in a 4-2 loss to the Netherlands. He also scored with a shot from 25 yards against Croatia in the Nations League in September.
“It’s special,” Eriksen said. “Since the first interview I’ve done since I came out in public saying I wanted to come back to play, (to go to the World Cup) was my first goal.”
Inspired by Eriksen’s ordeal and how Kjær and others helped save him, the Denmark team coalesced into an even tighter group afterwards – and the team’s results have raised expectations.
“We dream of something big,” Eriksen said. “The confidence in this team, and of (the media), of the fans, was greater when I came back (compared to) before.”
Tunisia have produced just two World Cup victories – first against Mexico in 1978, then against Panama four years ago in Russia.
But as the country’s fans flock to the first World Cup in the Middle East, coach Jalel Kadri has indicated he will step down if Tunisia fail to reach the knockout stages. It’s a daunting task in Group D, which also includes defending champions France and Australia.
Tunisia is also counting on the massive support of Egyptians and Algerians.
“All Arab communities will support us,” said Tunisian striker Issam Jebali, who plays for Danish club Odense. “We hope to live up to the expectations of every Arab country.”
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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf