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   31 May, 2002 | 1219 IST



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Danes out to hit Uruguay for six again

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Denmark coach Morten Olsen and assistant Michael Laudrup have fond memories of facing Uruguay and would love to re-live them when the two sides meet in their World Cup opener on Saturday.

Both men were in the Danish side which hammered the South Americans 6-1 in the 1986 World Cup.

That defeat was the heaviest in Uruguay's illustrious World Cup finals history and highlighted the shifting fortunes of the two sides -- the Danes were on a roll which took them to the 1992 European title while the Uruguayans were about to be banished into World Cup wilderness for the next 16 years.

This time round, as the pint-sized nations prepare for their group A clash in the South Korean city of Ulsan, the Danes still look to have the upper hand.

While they have no one of Laudrup's brilliance, their side is solid and settled, sailing through the qualifiers without losing a match.

The Uruguayans, in contrast, squeezed into the World Cup as the 32nd and final qualifiers only by beating Australia in a playoff.


Both teams hide their deadliest weapons just behind their strikers.

Jon Dahl Tomasson, who supports Ebbe Sand in the Danish attack, comes to Korea following a fine season with Feyenoord.

Alvaro Recoba For Uruguay, Alvaro Recoba is at his best when breaking from midfield to support either bleach-blond striker Dario Silva or in-form Sebastian Abreu. Recoba also packs a lethal left foot shot, particularly from free kicks.

The Danes will probably be the more offensive of the two sides, pushing Dennis Rommendahl and Jesper Gronkjaer down the flanks to stretch the Uruguayan defence.

But it will not be easy.

Los Celestes (the Sky Blues) conceded just 12 goals in their 20 qualifying matches -- fewer than any of the four sides who qualified above them, including Argentina and Brazil.

Paolo Montero is a rock at the heart of their defence, despite his recent knee injuries, while his Juventus team mate Fabian Carini is emerging as one of the world's best goalkeepers.


The Danes are at full strength, but Uruguay are missing midfielder Fabian O'Neill, out with an Achilles tendon injury, and likely to be replaced by Gianni Guigou.

As ever, Uruguay bring with them a reputation for gamesmanship and rough play, which could keep Kuwaiti referee Saad Mane busy.

Montero has been sent off more times than any player in Serie A history, while two members of Victor Pua's squad spent a week behind bars for their part in a huge brawl at a league match 18 months ago.

The Uruguayans, eager to make a good impression in their first World Cup appearance since their 1986 debacle, say their ugly reputation is undeserved.

On Saturday they have a chance to prove it.


Uruguay (4-3-1-2)

1-Fabian Carini; 2-Gustavo Mendez, 3-Alejandro Lembo, 4-Paolo Montero, 6-Dario Rodriguez; 8-Gustavo Varela, 5-Pablo Garcia, 7-Gianni Guigou; 20-Alvaro Recoba; 13-Sebastian Abreu, 9-Dario Silva.

Denmark (4-4-2)

1-Thomas Sorensen; 6-Thomas Helveg, 4-Martin Laursen, 3-Rene Henriksen, 5-Jan Heintze; 19-Dennis Rommendahl, 2-Stig Tofting, 7-Thomas Gravesen, 8-Jesper Gronkjaer; 9-Jon Dahl Tomasson, 11-Ebbe Sand.

Referee: Saad Kamel Mane (Kuwait)

Linesmen: Awni Hassouneh (Jordan) and Dramane Dante (Mali)

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