By James Agberebi:
Former Danish football great, Brian Laudrup, has admitted that Denmark were surprised to beat Nigeria at the France 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Despite going into the second round tie against Nigeria as clear underdogs at Stade de France, Denmark triumphed 4-1 to progress into the quarter-finals where they faced Brazil.
Laudrup, 47, scored Denmark's second goal, while Peter Moller, Ebbe Sand and Thomas Helveg were the other scorers. Nigeria's only goal was scored by Tijani Babangida.
Reflecting on the game, Laudrup, who played for Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Chelsea during his playing career, told FIFA.com that the win against Nigeria was one of his top international memories.
"Definitely. We had a very good team, Michael (elder brother and captain) was back in after struggling a bit in the opening games. Newspapers were beginning to think he should be left on the bench – crazy, crazy stuff.
"Nigeria was incredible for all of us because they were household favourites to beat us, no doubt. With some of the players they had back then, Jay-Jay Okocha, [Tijani] Babangida, [Nwankwo] Kanu, on a great day for them they would have beaten us, maybe easily," Laudrup confessed.
"When the pressure is not on, Denmark – a small country – performs to the best of its ability and we shocked Nigeria, which went a long way to giving us the victory. They tried to do all they could but it was impossible.
"We played so well in that game and that gave us the belief that we could move on to even greater things and the self-belief in the team was at an all-time high."
Laudrup who won the 1992 European Championship and the 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup with Denmark, said the win against Nigeria instilled the belief in them that they could also beat Brazil in the quarter-final.
"In the three group games we really didn’t perform that well and knew we needed to come out again, just like against Nigeria, and produce some miracles early on if we were to have any chance whatsoever. We scored after two minutes, which was absolutely incredible, and you could see the Brazilians were shell-shocked.
"Then obviously they came back, before we equalised and at that stage a lot of the Brazilians were angry at each other, they were arguing, they really were struggling a bit. They were tired and I thought ‘we are going to do this, this is going to be the all-time surprise’, but unfortunately they had one of the best players at that time in Rivaldo."