Kasper Hjulmand hopes Ajax links give Denmark edge over Wales in Amsterdam

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Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand believes Amsterdam’s “huge” connection with Danish football will help them overcome Wales in their Euro 2020 showdown.

The Danes reached the last 16 on a wave of emotion following Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest during their tournament opener against Finland.

Eriksen spent five years at Ajax before joining Tottenham in 2013 and numerous Danish players have progressed through the Amsterdam club’s celebrated academy.

Soccer – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – Second Leg – Manchester United v Ajax – Old Trafford
Denmark’s Christian Eriksen spent five years at Ajax before moving to Tottenham (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We’re playing at Christian’s old home and we’re so excited to give it our all against Wales,” Hjulmand said ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

“If there’s a club outside Denmark that means something for Danish football it is Ajax.

“They have always been developing and improving Danish players, so there is a huge connection between Amsterdam – and especially Ajax – and Danish football.

“We have three players from there and Christian was 16 when he came to Ajax.

“I could keep mentioning players who were discovered in Denmark and starred for Ajax.

“I know the philosophy they have behind their football and it is something I respect a lot.”

Wales fans are banned from the game as the United Kingdom is not on Holland’s safe list of countries.

Denmark supporters are permitted to attend as the country is in the European Union and their citizens do not have to quarantine if they spend less than 12 hours in Holland.

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Denmark will be backed by over 4,000 fans against Wales in Amsterdam (Hannah McKay/AP)

Around 4,400 Denmark fans are expected in a 16,000 Amsterdam crowd, and Hjulmand has also called on the native Dutch population to support his side.

“We have a huge connection to this city and I hope everyone in the Netherlands will feel the same thing at the game,” Hjulmand said.

“Hopefully they are going to come in red and white and not orange, so I hope we are going to have some support from this wonderful place.

“We know a lot of people have come to Amsterdam to support us. All that support and love that we receive we will try and project into a good game.”

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Praising Denmark’s mental strength since Eriksen collapsed in Copenhagen, Hjulmand added: “We dealt with a very traumatic experience and the same night we kept playing.

“We played one of the best teams in the world (Belgium) a few days later and then we beat Russia playing very intensely.

“We had three games at Parken (Stadium) filled with enough emotion for an entire life.

“It shows the power we possess, both mental and physical. We have shown this strength for many years.

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Kasper Schmeichel’s Leicester understudy Danny Ward has been in excellent form for Wales at Euro 2020 (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

“I respect Wales, what they have done during these last years, but at the same time we feel comfortable with what we do and the quality we have.”

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will come up against his Leicester deputy Danny Ward in Amsterdam.

Ward has been in outstanding form at Euro 2020 after ousting long-time Wales number one Wayne Hennessey to start.

Schmeichel said: “He (Ward) is an amazing goalkeeper. He has all the qualities required for a good goalkeeper.

“We have great competition and we have a really good relationship. I don’t see any weakness in him. He’s a complete goalkeeper.”

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