Superb Denmark ready for play-offs

Denmark 7-1 Bulgaria
"We want to test ourselves against the best in Europe," said Denmark coach Jess Thorup after ending qualifying Group 2 in style.

Jess Thorup is a happy Denmark coach
Jess Thorup is a happy Denmark coach ©Getty Images

Denmark coach Jess Thorup is relishing the challenge of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying play-offs after the Group 2 winners made light work of ten-man Bulgaria.

First place and a berth in next month's play-offs to reach the finals in the Czech Republic was clinched by a 4-2 defeat of Russia last Wednesday. This convincing victory – made somewhat easier by the 20th-minute dismissal of Hristofor Hubchev for a challenge on Lucas Andersen – ensured Denmark go into Friday's draw unbeaten in the campaign with 37 goals from their ten games.

AFC Ajax's Andersen, back in Aalborg where he used to play his club football, starred with two of the seven goals, one a perfect curler into the top corner, but the whole team played at an impressive level. Thorup was certainly impressed by the win and the campaign.

"It has been a great journey for us. It all started a year ago and now we are standing here. It was our first target to reach the play-offs and so we did – and in some style, scoring a lot of goals and not losing. So we have gained a lot of confidence and we are going to need this for the play-offs to overcome some of the best teams in Europe.

"During the entire qualifying campaign we have kept on developing our play. We scored, again, some fantastic goals today, so we are looking very much forward to the play-off round and we are ready for the challenge it definitely will be.

"We have a very interesting squad. This is the future of Danish football and hopefully some day the senior national team. It is maybe the most important aspect of my job, to get the guys ready for stepping up to the senior squad.

"But saying that, we still want to win now and achieve something. Now we have won the group and are ready for the play-offs, so we will have to see if we can take the next step towards the finals in the Czech Republic. We will do whatever we are capable of to reach the finals.

"It is important for our confidence that we have gone through the group stage undefeated, which is the most important thing in football. As a team and player by player we have gained a lot of confidence by winning this group and being undefeated. We feel ready for the next step.

"This group of lads is a very interesting group of young footballers, many of them already play at big clubs both in Denmark and outside Denmark, so I'm confident that we are ready and prepared for the next step. We want to test ourselves against the best in Europe."