World Cup Fans: Danish Vikings confident ahead of Socceroos clash

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With Australia and Denmark facing off at the World Cup this year, SBS News meets a group of Danish expats playing the beautiful game in Sydney.

'World Cup Fans' is a special SBS News series running in the lead up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It looks at the 32 qualifying countries through the eyes of their fans in Australia.

The Sydney Vikings football team is a home away from home for Scandinavians in Australia. The team plays in a five-a-side competition in Sydney's inner west and today consists of eight Danes and one Norwegian, all communicating in Danish.

"We started the team in January last year," says player Peter Tabor. "In all the big Asian capitals there's a Viking team."

"I've lived in some of those cities and we just copied the concept here. And every year in the Easter all the Viking teams meet up in a place in Asia to play a big tournament."

The Sydney Vikings
The Sydney Vikings.
SBS News

It's not uncommon for football to act as a bridge between communities and, as Vikings player Kristoffer Kraen explains, football is serious business for Danes.

"It is like a religion almost, everyone cares about it. If we win, everyone is ecstatic. If we lose, everyone goes nuts, so yeah, it's something we care about deeply," he says.

With Denmark's World Cup group stage showdown with the Socceroos on the horizon, many Danes are beginning to weigh up their chances of progressing to the competition's knockout phase.

Denmark will be making its fifth World Cup appearance after securing its spot with a convincing playoff win over the Republic of Ireland last year.

Their squad is littered with players with big league experience, headlined by Tottenham star Christian Eriksen who scored a hattrick in the final match against the Irish. The Danes have only played Australia three times but they've won two games to one.

Kraen says most Danes believe the Socceroos won't cause them much trouble on their path to the Round of 16.

"I'm fairly certain that Denmark is going to beat Australia. I actually went to the game where you guys qualified against Honduras and it wasn't pretty. And if you look at the way Denmark qualified against Ireland, obviously a thrashing, 5-1. Christian Eriksen was insane, so I think we've got the star players and also the tactical skills to beat you significantly."

A perhaps more measured assessment came from Kraen's Vikings teammate Christian Bessmann.

"We have a very young team. I mean Christian Eriksen is the big star in the team but if he's out there's a lot missing for the team. Just as Kristoffer said, we'll win, but it's a World Cup and there's never an easy game in the World Cup."

The Socceroos face Denmark in Samara on June 21.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins 15 June. SBS will broadcast the biggest games, including the opening match, semi-finals and final, live, free and in HD.

The World Game: World Cup 2018 match schedule and How to watch live.

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