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US set for knockout punch

sports Updated: Jun 23, 2010 00:13 IST

USA will advance to the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a win over Algeria, but they will try and sustain their own bid by ending American dreams.

Slovenia, Group C leader on four points, face England, on two points after a pair of draws, while the US, also on two points but more goals than England, meet the Algerians, who drew England for their lone point.

“This group has proved there isn't an easy game,” US defender Jay DeMerit said. “It's going to be an interesting last day.”

Bottom line for the Americans — win and they are in, lose and they are out.

“We need to keep them from scoring and keep scoring ourselves,” US veteran Clint Dempsey said.

The Americans have never won a WC game in which they fell behind, but they have battled back in 2010 for a 2-2 draw with Slovenia — having a winning goal wiped out by a referee at the death — and a 1-1 draw with England.

“My guess is there aren't many teams in this tournament that could have done what we did,” US star midfielder Landon Donovan said. “That's what the American spirit is about.”

The North Africans carry plenty of confidence into the match. Algeria must win to have any chance at extending their first WC appearance in 24 years.

“If Algeria plays to its potential, we do not need to worry about our opponents,” midfielder Karim Matmour said. “If we play our style, we can beat anyone.”

“We showed that we were worthy of at least a minimum of respect,” Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra said.