RUSTENBURG - Coach Bob Bradley and his
indefatigable United States team will seek revenge and a place
in the quarter-finals when they meet Ghana on Saturday.
After topping Group C thanks to a late winner by Landon
Donovan in their 1-0 victory over Algeria in Pretoria on
Wednesday, they hope to beat a team who look set to be the only
surviving African nation in the second round.
The U.S. reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2002 when
they were beaten 1-0 by Germany while in 1930 they reached the
semi-finals where they lost 6-1 to Argentina.
But it is the 2-1 defeat by Ghana in Nuremburg four years
ago that matters - and rankles - most now as they prepare to
meet the 'Black Stars' at the Royal Bafokeng stadium.
Several of the 2006 squad are in Bradley's current group
with Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus
Beasley and Donovan in the 2006 starting lineup against Ghana.
The fixture provides a great chance for his men to erase
memories of that controversial defeat decided by a penalty.
"We have Ghana and that will be a rematch of the game in
2006 - so it's a great opportunity for us. We've watched Ghana
before and they're very talented," coach Bradley said.
"They're very athletic. We'll need to do a real solid job in
terms of our team effort, our discipline because, again, they're
a very talented team."
Bradley's fit and determined side will also have great
support again as they return to Rustenburg where they drew their
opening group game against England 1-1 on June 12.
"One thing that was really special for us today (Wednesday)
was as our bus was coming down the road to the stadium - that
last stretch down the road the street was lined with USA fans.
"People waving flags, banging on the bus, wearing red, white
and blue and faces painted - we all felt a real extra amount of
emotion at that point. It was pretty special."
Another big show of American support is expected but Ghana
may have huge backing too after coach Milovan Rajevac called for
Africa to back his side, who reached the last 16 on goal
difference despite losing to Germany on Wednesday.
"To qualify is really very important for us and for Africa,"
said the Serb. "I'm very emotional and I hope we can benefit
from the support of all of the South African people and the
continent of Africa."
Rajevac needs to find a cutting edge if Ghana are to repeat
their previous win. They have scored only twice in their three
group games - both penalties converted by Asamoah Gyan.
The Americans, who played with little break between games at
the Confederations Cup last year, have scored more freely -
finding the net four times - but have twice relied on late
goals to draw with Slovenia and then beat Algeria.
"In the Confederations Cup last year, we had times when we
had just two full days between games, so we've experienced it
before and I think we've shown we are a fit team," said Bradley.
His son, midfielder Michael, promised more of the
never-say-die spirit that has enabled them twice to come from
behind for draws and then to beat Algeria.
"We have a commitment that, until the referee blows, we are
going to give everything we have. It is the mentality of our
team, ingrained in us and we are committed as fighters."
That spirit, plus the Americans' organisation and fitness,
should be enough to end the African adventure unless Ghana's
young and talented team can turn promise into goals.
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