U.S. looking for revenge in Ghana rematch
RUSTENBURG (Reuters) -- 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.