Egypt head into their clash with USA in Rustenburg in high spirits, fresh on from a shock win over world champions Italy last time out. The Stars and Stripes, for their part, are suffering through a dreadful run of form and poor results here in South Africa, having lost both of their games thus far.
Egypt-USA, 21 June, 20h30 (local time), Rustenburg
The Egyptians are in sparkling form and firmly established as the surprise of the FIFA Confederations Cup here in South Africa. After giving much-fancied Brazil an almighty fright in their opener in Bloemfontein, eventually losing out 4-3 after a Herculean battle, the Pharaohs did not let their heads drop, upsetting world champions Italy 1-0 in Johannesburg in 18 June.
American confidence is likely to be significantly lower than that of the African champions ahead of the first-ever meeting between the two nations. Bob Bradley's youthful side have lost both of their games, first 3-1 to Italy and then 3-0 to Brazil. Although they put up firm resistance in their curtain raiser, the CONCACAF champions were well and truly outplayed by Brazil last time out.
Essam El Hadary vs. the USA attack
Egypt's outstanding goalkeeper may have conceded four against Brazil, but he was virtually super-human in the Pharaohs' historic game against Italy. After Mohamed Homos scored in the 40th minute, the Switzerland-based goalkeeper slammed the door shut on Italy's world-class frontline, making save after save to maintain the 1-0 advantage for the African kings. The American attackers: Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will need to be at their very best if they plan to get the better of the former Al Ahly custodian. But with only one goal so far at these finals, and goal difference proving to be crucial in the event of a Brazil win, they need to find their range quickly.
The United States and Egypt have never met before. The game at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace Stadium will be a historical moment for the pair.
100 - Landon Donovan, USA's captain and all-time top scorer, is only one of three players at South Africa 2009 to have notched up more than 100 caps. He became one the youngest players in history to hit a century of appearances, hitting the mark at just 26 years of age.
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The lion's share of the Egyptian squad ply their club trade in the domestic top flight, 19 of the 23 in fact. Many observers expected Hassan Shehata's Pharaohs to suffer without their strike pairing of Mido and Amr Zaki, but the home boys have put together some of the most alluring team football here in South Africa. The Americans have only five players in their squad who play at home in Major League Soccer, the USA's top tier of professional football.
"It's disappointing to lose our first two games, but we're still in it until we're out of it. Whatever the case, we'll have to show up and give our best performance in the final group game. I think we've learned a lot from our first two matches and hopefully we can get something out of the third with Egypt," USA defender Jonathan Spector.
"The game against the United States is even more important than the ones against Italy and Brazil, if I were being honest. If we don't win against the Americans, our victory over Italy will be rendered largely meaningless. This is a decisive game and we must be ready for a fight," Egypt playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika.
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