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WILL THE DANISH NATIONAL TEAM CONQUER QATAR? Author: Sijabulile NdlovuMamelodi Sundowns’ sporting director, Flemming Berg, has earned his esteemed reputation in the world of football. The Danish national rose to prominence while serving his country’s Football Association as Head of Elite Football Development for seven years. During his prosperous tenure, the veteran football scout saw numerous talented Danish players rising to fame and making a name for themselves in the football history books. Moreover, Flemming Berg was part of the group of the Danish Football Association members who worked towards elevating the country’s FIFA rankings from 46th in 2016, to 10th position in 2021.
Being a visionary, the Danish national was responsible for his country’s playing philosophy and strategy during his term as Head of the Football Association.
Flemming Berg also spent an additional seven years with European football club, Chelsea, as an international scout before joining The Brazilians in April 2022. MAMELODI SUNDOWNS DIGITAL MAGAZINE CREW CAUGHT UP WITH THE ACCOMPLISHED SPORTING DIRECTOR TO DISCUSS HIS EXPERIENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA THUS FAR, AS WELL AS HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR THE UPCOMING 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP IN QATAR.Mamelodi Sundowns (MS): You moved from your home country, Denmark to South Africa. How has your stay in South Africa been?Flemming Berg (FB): Moving to a different country can be quite challenging, especially in terms of familiarity. There are things that I miss about Denmark, but I’ve always been someone who focuses on the future. Therefore, this has been an interesting adventure for me. Fortunately, I recently had a visit from some of my old friends from Denmark who are supporters of Mamelodi Sundowns. We attended a few games together and they got to experience South Africa’s vibrant culture and experience the good energy radiated by Mamelodi Sundowns supporters. MS: Speaking about the yellow nation, the Danish national team’s fans are called “roligans.” What is the story behind the name, and what are the similarities between South African and Danish football supporters?FB: The word “roligans” comes from the English word “hooligans” which was used to describe football fans who were aggressive in British football history. “Roli” in Dani means calm. Therefore, the term “roligans” was created to describe the calm and friendly nature of Danish football supporters. They always show great support to the Danish national team whenever they play. Similar to South Africa, there is also a lot of singing and dancing among football fans in Denmark. However, South Africans are different because they have so much rhythm. There is a lot of singing and dancing, even in the changing rooms. This is something that isn’t a norm in Scandinavian countries, particularly Denmark. There are significant differences between football supporters in Denmark and South Africa, but we have one thing in common – we both love and support our football clubs. MS: The Danish national team will compete in Group D of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. What position do you think they will finish in the group and the competition as a whole? FB: The FIFA World Cup is always interesting, and Denmark have participated in many editions of the tournament. We have always qualified for the group stages, except for the edition that was hosted by South Africa in 2010. Our group for the Qatari edition of the tournament is similar to the one we were in during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where we were grouped with France and Australia. I believe that we will make it to second place in our group. MS: Being the 10th best football nation according to FIFA rankings, is there any pressure to advance to further stages of the World Cup? FB: One of our football ambitions in Denmark is to be the highest-ranked nation by FIFA among countries with a population of less than 10 million. Being a population of only 5.5 million, our competitors are Croatia and Uruguay, who are in eleventh and fourteenth place respectively. We have ambitions of succeeding in the tournament. However, if we want to be at the top of our group, we will have to surpass Tunisia and Australia who are both very good. I believe that we should focus on making it in group stages rather than setting ambitions of making it in the semi, or quarterfinals. MS: You worked with many renowned football players during your tenure at the Danish Football Association. Which of those players can we look forward to seeing at the World Cup? FB: I worked with many exceptional football players during my term at the Danish Football Association. The biggest one is Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen, who is back and looking better than ever. I believe that he will play a key role in advancing the Danish national team to further stages of the competition. We also have a talented 22-year-old midfielder, Mikkel Damsgaard who plays for Brentford. He has a fantastic view of the beautiful game. Finally, I am looking forward to seeing Andreas Christensen who plays for Barcelona. He is a brilliant player who did exceptionally well in the youth development structures. MS: What impact do you think the climate will have on the Qatar tournament? FB: I don’t think the climate will have much of an impact on player performances at the World Cup. I believe that the football pitches will be in good condition which will favour the fast-playing teams. The Danish team will be at an advantage because we have a clear playing philosophy. Our strategy is to control the game by dominating the ball. MS: What do you look forward to seeing most at the 2022 FIFA World Cup? FB: Firstly, I must say that I love the World Cup. It is the biggest football event in the world and the second biggest television event after the Summer Olympics. It is a fantastic football tournament where some of the world's greatest players showcase their quality. I always look forward to seeing some of the strong teams such as Germany, Belgium, and Spain. With this World Cup, I don’t think it’s possible to pinpoint a team that is guaranteed a spot in the final because there is a lot of good competition. Additionally, Flemming Berg expressed that he has great expectations for the highly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He also mentioned that he looks forward to seeing Argentina play as it will be nostalgic of the World Cup experiences that he had growing up.