DOHA (AP) — The match between Denmark and Tunisia on Wednesday in the World Cup will face one of the countries most critical of the tournament organized by Qatar and one of the four competing Arab teams.
The appointment at the Education City stadium will also mean the return of Christian Eriksen to a major tournament after the cardiac arrest he suffered last year in the European Championship.
Denmark have very ambitious goals after reaching the semi-finals at the Euros, followed by a near-perfect qualifying campaign, while Tunisia seek to advance from the group stage for the first time in their sixth World Cup appearance.
Since arriving in Qatar, Denmark has been training in a black kit in memory of the migrant workers who died during the construction of the infrastructure for the tournament.
Denmark had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armband from the “One Love” campaign alongside other European teams, but the teams withdrew the campaign after FIFA threatened to punish captains with yellow cards.
“Imagine taking the field with a clear yellow card to start with. That is not possible and we have to make sure that it is not up to the players to make that decision,” said Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand.
The Tunisian coach Jalal Kadri referred to the controversy saying that “we are in an Arab country with an Islamic tradition, we have to respect the culture of other peoples.”
Eriksen’s return is one of the most moving stories of the tournament, less than 18 months after doctors had to use a defibrillator to revive him as a horrified country — and much of the soccer world — watched his lifeless body sprawled on the ground. The grass of the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
It is the latest leg of his remarkable return to football’s elite, first to the Premier League with London’s Brentford and Manchester United, proving he remains among the world’s best creative midfielders. In March he reappeared for the national team and scored two minutes after coming on as a substitute in a 4-2 loss to the Netherlands.
“This is special,” Eriksen said. “Since the first interview I did, when I said in public that I wanted to play again, (competing in a World Cup) was my first goal.
Tunisia has only won two World Cup victories: against Mexico in 1978 and against Panama four years ago in Russia.
But with his fans traveling en masse for the first World Cup in the Middle East, Kadri has indicated he will step down if they don’t advance to the round of 16. But that’s a tough task in Group D, which includes defending champions France and Australia.