By Peter Bruun & Paul-Daniel Zaharia
A win for Denmark in their home game against Anghel Iordanescu's Romania tonight would be the decisive result of a fiercely contested Group 2, but should the Danes falter, three sides could stand to profit.
A 1-0 win for Bosnia-Herzegovina against third-placed Norway was good news for Morten Olsen's side at the weekend and three points against Romania would see them build up an unassailable lead at the top of the group. With a tie against Bosnia-Herzegovina to come, Olsen knows that Denmark's destiny is in their own hands.
"The results this weekend have given us two chances to qualify for [UEFA] EURO 2004," said Olsen. "
Neither Romania nor Bosnia can do with a draw against us, so we are looking at difficult opposition in both matches, but if we are clever enough, we will secure qualification in our first attempt on Wednesday at the Parken stadium."
However, Olsen's confidence may have taken a slight knock with the withdrawal of Kasper Bøgelund from his 20-man squad, following the 22-year-old's failure to respond to intensive treatment on a groin injury. Midfield player Morten Wieghorst is also struggling with a knee injury, and Olsen can ill-afford to lose any more experienced players.
The coach has elected not to bring another player into the squad to face Romania following Bøgelund's departure. However, his opposite number, Iordanescu, had no hesitation in drafting in Andrei Cristea from Romania's Under-21s after Mugurel Buga failed to make the trip to Copenhagen on Sunday after an injury last week.
This will be Romania's final qualifying game, and since they are level on points with Denmark, who have a game in hand, only a win will assure them of a play-off place or a shot at winning Group 2 outright.
"Everybody knows that it will be a very, very difficult game," Iordanescu said. "
We know that we have only one chance of qualifying: to win in Denmark. And that's we want to do. In order to achieve this we need sacrifice, battling spirit and intelligent tactics. What happened in Bucharest, when we lost 5-2 at home against Denmark, happens only once in 50 years."
Veteran Dorinel Munteanu - who is now Romania's most-capped international after Gheorghe Hagi with 116 appearances - knows the match is there to be won. "If we play like a real team, we'll qualify," he said. "Now, everything is up to us. We need to be patient, because this game will last 90 minutes."
Defeat for Denmark would let Norway and Bosnia-Herzegovina back into the race. Norway, currently two points adrift of Romania in third place, are at home against Luxembourg in their final game on 11 October, but by that time, they could have been pushed back into fourth place by the team they lost to on Saturday.
A win for Bosnia-Herzegovina in Luxembourg on Wednesday would lift them into third place, and should Denmark and Romania draw, Blaz Sliškovic's side will have a chance to play for the Group 2 crown when they host Denmark - who they overcame 2-0 in Copenhagen - in their final game next month.
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