Denmark went into Sunday's friendly against Iceland, their first fixture for six months, missing seven of the players they hoped would be starting in their UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ opener on 23 August. But three minutes into the match in Staines, near London, Maiken Pape scored and after the 2-1 win she thinks they are in good shape for the finals.
Since Denmark beat Germany 1-0 to finish third at the Algarve Cup in March, top scorer Merete Pedersen has bowed out of the squad while Mariann Gajhede and Christina Ørntoft have suffered cruciate ligament injuries that have ruled them out for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™. On top of that, first-choice goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist plus regulars Johanna Rasmussen, Julie Rydahl Bukh and Cathrine Paaske Sørensen were all unable to play against Iceland, leaving Denmark with six starters whose cap totals are still in single figures. But Pape's emphatic finish set Denmark on their way to victory against their fellow European finalists and was pleased with the display.
"We are very satisfied as we had a lot of new players," Pape told uefa.com. "We knew Iceland were physical. We made a very good start, two goals within ten minutes. Then there was not such a good period but we controlled the game and had a lot of chances. We have a lot of injuries but so far it is good.
We were playing without seven normal starters so we can be satisfied with a win. But we have a lot to work on both on a physical level but also on the pitch so we will keep working for the next month."
The 31-year-old, who scored her 16th goal in 34 internationals, is likely to again lead the line when Denmark play England in Swindon on Wednesday in their penultimate pre-finals friendly. After taking on Scotland in Gladsaxe on 14 August, Denmark have nine days before they open the finals against hosts Finland in Helsinki with further Group A fixtures to come against the side they pipped to automatic qualification – Ukraine – and the Netherlands.
Stabæk IL forward Pape said: "Finland look strong, there will be a lot of spectators there cheering for Finland, but we have a good chance of beating them. Ukraine are also a good team, different to Finland, lots of small, quick players, maybe tactically better. But we have a good chance against all the teams. I don't know so much about the Netherlands; so far we have been focusing on Finland and Ukraine but when we get together we'll discuss how we'll play against the Dutch."
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