‘All on the line’ for Denmark and Australia
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand admitted on Tuesday that "emotions are very, very high" for their must-win World Cup clash against a dogged Australia.
With holders France already qualified for the last 16 from Group D, Australia are in pole position to join them in the knockout rounds with three points from two games.
Hjulmand said "everyone is ready" and he has no fitness concerns, but he conceded the pressure is on for a team who had been expected prior to the tournament to progress along with France.
"It is a World Cup so emotions are very, very high and football is wonderful -- with football you can multiply your feelings by 10, the fear of losing is (also) very, very much involved."
"It's going to be an incredible test. It's all on the line for both teams," said Australia's defensive rock Harry Souttar, whose thunderous goal-saving tackle against Tunisia has been widely-praised.
Former Socceroo star Stan Lazaridis reckons the 2006 team getting Australia through to the knockout round for the first time was expected given the talent they had, but this side have surprised Aussie fans with their determination.
"If we do make that next round, it will probably be the biggest achievement, even ahead of the 2006 side, because they had a real quality about them," Lazaridis told Reuters at the Fanatics HQ in Al Wakrah, where many Australian fans are based.
Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark must beat Australia and hope Tunisia do not do likewise against France if they are to extend their stay in Qatar.
Hjulmand knows that the pressure is on, but he backs his players to handle it.
"Of course there is pressure," said the 50-year-old.
"(But) these players are very, very used to big games and the more experience you have of these kinds of events, from maybe feeling the pressure, you feel pride.
"It is a dream since you were a kid and now you are actually in a position where you can go out and play football for something."