US will make most of 'big opportunity' says Donovan

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The Independent Football

The United States believe they have a huge opportunity to do something special in this World Cup and forget the sense of finality and pain from 2006 when they lost at the hands of their next opponents, Ghana.

The US, who went out four years ago after losing to Ghana in the last game of their group stage, will face the African nation tomorrow, after topping their group on Wednesday night with a dramatic goal against Algeria in added time.

The scorer Landon Donovan, referring to the match four years earlier in Germany, said: "That was not a good day for me or for the team and what I remember most personally was my tentativeness and the immediate feeling afterwards of the finality of it and how disappointing that was.

"I've already put it behind me but this is a chance to do something very special. Ghana is next, we are aware that if we were to win that game it would be Uruguay and South Korea [as next opponents]. I can't emphasise how big this opportunity is and we need to take advantage of it."

Donovan added that the players would in many ways feel less pressure in their next game. "In a lot of ways it becomes very simple," said Donovan. "There's one game, you lose, you go home. There's no ramifications of other games, other results. So the pressure is off and I think we'll play really well under the circumstances."

The US coach, Bob Bradley, said his team had the opportunity to test themselves against stronger opposition and he believed they would take great heart from the way they handled their first round. "There's pressure to deal with it and find a way to move on," he said. "And when you do that then that's a good feeling and you're ready to get on to the knockout phase."

Bradley has called on for players who feigned injury to be banned for a "good number of games", saying he would be ashamed to be associated with such blatant cheating. "It's the easiest thing to clean up," he said. "When I see Kaka get sent off, I think that's too bad for the game because he's a great player."

Brazil's Kaka was sent off against Ivory Coast for allegedly elbowing Abdelkader Keita, although replays showed the Ivorian was clearly exaggerating the impact. The US coach said: "If it's as obvious as somebody getting pushed in the chest and grabbing his face and lying on the ground, I would rescind the other red card and suspend the player who did it for a good number of games."