DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Conor O'Brien and Brad Rusin are within reach of reaching the Danish Cup final, however each will need to help their respective teams to victory if they hope to meet next month in Copenhagen.
SønderjyskE - FC Copenhagen (agg. 0-1)
Trailing by the narrowest of margins after last week's first leg in Copenhagen, Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE will hope their recent league momentum will carry them to the victory they need.
The 1-0 victory by Copenhagen one week before puts the team in a rather precarious position: not only do they need to beat the reigning league champions outright, but will need to either win by multiple goals or keep their opponents from scoring what could be a backbreaking away goal.
Both teams have been unquestionably hot in Superligaen play in recent weeks, likely leading to a lively encounter which will be close down to the last minute.
Copenhagen are undefeated since the turn of the year, and hold a relatively safe six-point lead in the league title race.
Similarly, SønderjyskE have gone six straight since their last loss, and what looked at the start of the spring to be a possible struggle against relegation has turned into a challenge to establish themselves in the upper half of the standings.
Both teams won over the weekend, coincidentally against the two teams competing in the second semifinal match on Thursday. SønderjyskE survived the sending-off of star attacker Quincey Antipas to beat Køge by a 2-1 score, while Copenhagen needed a late goal by Bryan Oveido to do away with AC Horsens by the same scoreline.
SønderjyskE are missing just a pair of players, as defender Thomas Hansen and midfielder Jacob Tjørnelund are both injured.
For the visitors, the defensive duo of Sölvi Ottesen and Lars Jacobsen along with midfielder Thomas Kristiensen are all out with minor injuries. In addition, Danish-American midfielder Thomas Delaney is sidelined for the long-term after undergoing knee surgery.
AC Horsens - HB Køge (agg. 2-2)
Brad Rusin could feature for Køge in their matchup at Horsens on Thursday, with the team likely needing to notch a win in order to see their way into the final.
The teams drew 2-2 in last week's first leg at Køge, and thanks to the away goals rule, Rusin and his compatriots would need a high-scoring draw, or a victory to assure their passage.
Køge lost over the weekend to fellow semifinalists SønderjyskE, failing to take advantage of their ten-man opponents as they slumped to a sixth straight game without a win.
Horsen have also cooled off in recent weeks after a strong run had them entertaining notions of Champions League qualification. They lost to Copenhagen over the weekend, and looked vulnerable in the first-leg draw against a Køge team they might have overlooked.
Both teams are looking for a historic first-ever trip to the final. Horsens have been close on three occasions, most recently in 2005 when they suffered a heavy loss to Midtjylland in the semifinals.
Rusin has been used increasingly sparingly in his traditional central defender role throughout the spring, but has kept his position as a towering presence in the attack late in games for head coach Tommy Møller Nielsen, and could very well feature in the same role on Thursday.
Køge are likely missing injured defenders Andreas Sørensen and Anders Nielsen while Horsens are reporting a full squad for the game.