No quarter will be asked or given when USA take on Ghana's Black Stars at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium for a place in the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. With both teams having already offered evidence of an attacking approach, an open, attractive game looks on the cards on Saturday.
The Round of 16 meeting between USA and Ghana promises a feast of attacking football given both teams have looked stronger going forward than at the back. While USA teetered on the brink of elimination before scoring a stoppage-time winner in their final Group C game against Algeria, Ghana performed impressively in navigating their way through a tricky section where they faced Serbia, Australia and Germany. Though that may not necessarily ensure the west Africans the psychological upper hand in the face of single-minded opponents, several players who will be involved on Saturday have first-hand memories of the sides' meeting at the group stage in Germany four years ago - when Ghana's 2-1 victory sent the Americans home.
This time USA coach Bob Bradley will be relying on Landon Donovan, the gifted LA Galaxy forward whose two goals so far in South Africa included the decisive late winner against Algeria. Bradley's opposite number Milovan Rajevac, meanwhile, can call on Rennes front man Asamoah Gyan, who has scored six of Ghana's nine goals so far in 2010. To keep Gyan and Co at bay, the United States will need to tighten up a defence that at times has been found wanting, particularly in the first half of their 2-2 draw with Slovenia.
Players to watch
Clint Dempsey v John Pantsil
As team-mates at Fulham in the English Premiership since 2008, there can be little that these two do not know about each other. So, when Dempsey makes his characteristic runs from deep positions, he is sure to encounter the immovable force of Pantsil in the Ghana defence. And while the American perhaps has something to prove after missing a hatful of chances against Algeria, he will not expect any favours from an opponent who shrugged off a nasty clash of heads during the 1-1 draw with Australia to take his place against Germany four days later.
12 – the number of survivors from the group match between the two teams at Germany 2006: Ghana's Richard Kingson, John Mensah, Derek Boateng, Stephen Appiah, Pantsil and Matthew Amoah, and USA's Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu.
The voice of the fans
"I will a bit sorry to lose one of these teams, as I would like to have seen them reach the quarter-finals. But if I have to choose, I reckon Ghana will go through," masry2zbone, FIFA.com user
Can the Americans repeat their feats from last year's FIFA Confederations Cup and reach the Final? Or can Ghana push on and become the first African team ever reach the last four?