USA captain Carlos Bocanegra is adamant his team will not be underestimating Slovenia just because they lack the Premier League household names possessed by the Americans' last FIFA World Cup™ opponents England.
The United States face the Alpine nation at Ellis Park this afternoon knowing a win for Slovenia and for England against Algeria in Cape Town this evening would leave qualification for the knockout phase out of their hands. Former Fulham defender Bocanegra was familiar with many of England's star names from his stint in the Premier League but the man who is now with French club Rennes does not doubt the quality in the Slovenia line-up.
Bocanegra said: "We have some personal experience against these guys. A few play in Germany, a few in France, just because they're not in the Premier League we're still familiar with these guys. We are not going to take them lightly just because some people might not know the names as well."
USA coach Bob Bradley said his squad were all in good shape for the Group C encounter, with goalkeeper Tim Howard now recovered from the rib injury he suffered in a collision with England forward Emile Heskey on Saturday. Three USA players - Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit and Robbie Findley - are a yellow card away from a suspension.
For Slovenia, coach Matjaz Kek is well aware his team are in a position to secure a place in the knockout phase after their opening win over Algeria in Polokwane and praised how far they had come in a year. "A year ago we were making preparations for playing San Marino, today we are thinking about the knockout stage in our second match," he said.
"A great step has been taken and our squad has achieved a great evolution. This is not the most important match in our history but it is important and it can establish Slovenia on the global map of football. I know we have the smallest population of all the teams in the World Cup but we have not come here to rest, we are active participants in this World Cup. A year back things were completely different."
Aleksandar Radosavljevic and Andrej Komac are one yellow card away from being suspended for the final group match against England. Inter Milan midfielder Rene Krhin has an ankle knock and defender Marko Suler, who has struggled with injuries throughout the season, has what Kek described as "a light difficulty" but he expects both to be available for selection against the US.