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Danes feel at home in SA

Jun 13, 2010 2:51 PM | By Sapa-dpa

Unlike most of the other World Cup participants, Denmark are not staying in the Gauteng province near Johannesburg or Pretoria, opting instead to base themselves on the picturesque Garden Route.

danishpic South Africa's Siboniso Gaxa (L) challenges Denmark's Jesper Gronkjaer (R) during their international friendly soccer match at the Super Stadium in Pretoria June 5, 2010.
Photograph by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO





The Scandinavians have chosen the Simola Country Club in Knysna as their home away from home and it is a decision the players have welcomed.

Striker Jesper Gronkjaer, who is playing in his second World Cup, said that he enjoys being in Knysna. "We are living south of George and it could just as well be in the south of France.

"People are very friendly here, so it has been a wonderful experience."

The former Ajax Amsterdam and Chelsea player, who now plays for FC Copenhagen, has been to South Africa before. "It has been nice to be here. I was here ten years ago in Cape Town and it still looks the same. The sun is shining and it looks very western in Johannesburg and Cape Town."

Werder Bremen midfielder Daniel Jensen said he has noticed some differences between Knysna and the cities in Gauteng. "Where we live people have been very kind and very nice and it is very beautiful around there."

"In Johannesburg it is a bit different and you can see that, especially when we are driving in the bus, not everything is ready yet. In some places you can see that they are struggling and trying to get in shape. They are repairing some of the buildings and all the guys are on the street."

 Both players are not surprised that South Africans have embraced the World Cup and that the country has been engulfed by football-fever.

"It is the first time that the World Cup has been held on the African continent and we knew that it was going to be special here. We knew that there would be a lot of dancing and singing and all these horns making a terrible noise. I think we all had a pretty good feeling about how it would be," Gronkjaer said.

Jensen, who was hoping to recover from an injury in time for the Danes' opening Group E clash against the Netherlands, said he believes South Africa probably made the most of the time before the World Cup.

"Ever since they knew they were going to hold the World Cup here, they have been turning the thing around and getting people interested in football."

"It now looks like they have all the South African people behind the team and that of course is very positive. I know it has only just started, but there is a very positive spirit and hopefully it can go on like that."