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Faroese jubilant despite defeat by Germany

© Reuters 2002

COPENHAGEN, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The Faroe Islands were but a few centimetres from a draw with an over-confident Germany in a Euro 2004 qualifier on Wednesday and local newspapers praised the plucky part-timers on Thursday.

Hjalgrim Elttor came one-on-one with Oliver Kahn in the 84th minute but his shot hit the post, denying the Faroese an equaliser.

FIFA World Cup" runners-up Germany eventually won the Group Five match 2-1.

"A fantastic experience," summed up Jakup Mork, a reporter for the Faroese daily newspaper Sosialurin.

He had particular praise for the team's Danish coach Henrik Larsen's offensive decision to substitute both of his strikers with new forwards.

"Larsen did not want his team to go on the defensive," Mork told Reuters by telephone from the Faroese capital Torshavn.

"Wonderful" read the headline of the match report on a Faroese Internet web site dedicated to sports. It applauded Faroese goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen, saying it was thanks to him that the halftime result was a 1-1.

The Faroe Islands belong to Denmark and the Danish newspaper B.T. - noting that former German international forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had predicted a 7-0 or 8-0 walkover - said the match could easily have ended in disaster for Germany.

"After a fantastic display of fighting spirit Dane Henrik Larsen's Faroese national team lost by only 2-1...and with a little luck it could have turned out much better," B.T. said.

Mork at Sosialurin said the Faroese players and team officials were "very satisfied" despite the loss because their effort had been so much better than in last Saturday's 2-0 loss by Lithuania.

Wednesday's performance had been as good as when the Faroe Islands held Scotland to a draw in their opening European Championship qualifier last month, he said.

Big European teams would continue to underestimate the Faroese at their peril, Mork said.

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