England captain John Terry believes it is important his side get off to a winning start against the United States at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Fabio Capello's side were paired with the USA and Slovenia - two sides they know reasonably well - and African play-off winners Algeria, about who the manager admitted he knows "nothing."
"I was with my England and Chelsea team-mates Frank (Lampard), Joe (Cole) and Ashley (Cole) watching the draw," said the Chelsea man. "We had just landed at Manchester ahead of our match against Manchester City tomorrow and watched the teams drawn from the bus on our way to the team hotel.
Manager Fabio Capello has warned his players not to be complacent, something echoed by his captain, but Terry was also relieved to have missed some of the bigger names they could have drawn. Terry told The Sun: "We can make history. We've missed the obvious big teams but everyone has earned their right to be there and we can't be complacent. We didn't want to end up in a Group of Death - and when you look at the Germany and Brazil groups, it could have been much worse."
"It's obviously very exciting with some great fixtures," he went on. "As far as England are concerned we are familiar with two of our opponents - USA and Slovenia - and know their players well. Hopefully this will help us prepare for those games."
Terry added: "England have never played Algeria and of course they got through to the finals with a play-off victory over Egypt. But for me, it's all about that first game and getting off to a good start. Every team's opening group match is important and we're no different - it's a big game."
England last played the United States in 2005, winning 2-1 in Chicago. They beat Slovenia in September this year at Wembley, also by a 2-1 scoreline.
Steven Gerrard echoed Terry's relief at avoiding big names such as France and Portugal. He told the Daily Mirror: "What I didn't want was to come up against the unknown and we have avoided that and we have avoided some of the really hard groups - like the one Brazil find themselves in. We have played two of the sides in our group under Fabio Capello - and beaten them. So we know what to expect and we know what we have to do to beat them."
The Liverpool midfielder also called on the team to guard against complacency in light of their favourites tag. "I am really encouraged by the draw, it is all we could ask, even beyond the the first group stage," he said.
"We have to be professional and show the right attitude because even though we'll be massive favourites you know the other teams in our group will see England as a huge scalp - almost their own World Cup final. But we have to be confident of getting maximum points otherwise we shouldn't be going."