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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Will it be third time lucky?
Jesper Olsen runs at the Scotland defence in 1986
Jesper Olsen runs at the Scotland defence in 1986
Denmark may have a rich footballing tradition, but they have only competed in two World Cups before.

The national football association was founded in 1889 and Denmark became one of the founder members of Fifa, football's world governing body.

Despite enjoying great success at the 1908 London Olympics, winning a silver medal in their first foray into international competition, it was not until 1948 that they competed on a world stage again, also at the Olympics.

The fact that football was still an amateur game in Denmark meant that the country had not progressed as it might have and perhaps should have done, during those intervening years.

Denmark history
World Cup Finals
1986 - second phase
1998 - quarter final
Other highlights
1992 European champions
Star players
Michael Laudrup
Brian Laudrup
Jesper Olsen
Allan Simonsen
Preben Elkjaer Larsen

The Danish league finally turned professional in 1978 and, although one of their star players Allan Simonsen was named European Footballer of the Year, they still lacked the quality in depth to qualify for the World Cup finals.

Joy finally came in 1986, when coach Sepp Piontek guided the Scandinavian side to Mexico.

They lost only two out of eight matches to win their qualifying group and progress to their first World Cup finals.

Three years previously, they had reached the European championship semi-finals at the first time of asking, so the omens looked good for Mexico.

And they produced some superb performances in the first-round, beating Scotland and eventual finalists Germany.

They thrashed Uruguay 6-1 but, when it came to a meeting with Spain in the second phase, the Danes crashed out in spectacular style - losing 5-1.

Preben Elkjaer Larsen was a star at the 1986 Finals
Preben Elkjaer Larsen was a star at the 1986 Finals

They failed to qualify again for the game's greatest tournament until 1998.

But the years in between were by no means disappointing.

With players such as Michael and Brian Laudrup in midfield and Preben Elkjaer Larsen in attack, the side were a force to be reckoned with in the late 1980s.

They qualified for Euro 92 through the back door after Yuogoslavia were prevented from competing due to their political crisis.

But Denmark went on to prove they should have got there without help, winning the tournament with a sensational triumph over Germany in the final.

The Laudrup brothers bowed out of international football in some style at France 98.

After qualifying from the first phase, they beat Nigeria 4-1 before losing to Brazil 3-2 in a thrilling quarter-final.

With France, Senegal and Uruguay up against them in the first round this summer, a place in the knockout stages is there for the taking.

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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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