USA forward Landon Donovan has sounded a warning to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ group C opponents England ahead of tomorrow's friendly against Turkey.
The States have struggled in their build-up to the tournament, losing to Honduras, Netherlands and the Czech Republic this year, and face a team in form as Turkey beat both the Czechs and Northern Ireland in the last week. But Donovan remains upbeat about his side's prospects and cited as evidence last year's FIFA Confederations Cup, when they reached the final and led Brazil 2-0 en route to an eventual 3-2 defeat.
The LA Galaxy man, who impressed while on loan in the English Premier League at Everton this year, told the Sun: "We have a lot of European-based players and watch the Premier League all the time on TV, so there will be no surprises from the England team. And, after our experience in the Confederations Cup last year, we are confident we can play all the big teams and not only compete with them but get the better of them, too - starting with England."
Two pairs of South Africa-bound teams face off in a double-header at the Wortherseestadion in Klagenfurt, Austria, with Slovakia's clash with Cameroon followed by New Zealand taking on Serbia. The Kiwis will be without striker Chris Killen, who is getting married but will be back with the squad for their next friendly against Slovenia, and vice-captain Tim Brown, although the prognosis on the latter's fractured shoulder is positive.
After our experience in the Confederations Cup last year, we are confident we can play all the big teams and not only compete with them but get the better of them, too - starting with England.
"It is still too early to comment on his chances of being available for the World Cup at this stage," said Brown's surgeon Stu Walsh. "However, Tim is a strong and fit athlete who is very motivated and looks after himself well, which will benefit his recovery."
Serbia's Dejan Stankovic is raring to get back into action despite only finishing his domestic season when he appeared as a substitute for Inter Milan in last Saturday's UEFA Champions League final. "I don't need any holidays. My body doesn't feel tired," the 31-year-old told Bilic Sport. "I can't wait to reunite with my national team-mates and start training alongside them. All I want to do is play."
Slovakia are preparing for their first appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals and full-back Peter Pekarik admitted: "For a small nation like us, qualifying was a sensational achievement." Not content to rest on his laurels, though, the Wolfsburg player told FIFA.com: "We've got nothing to lose in South Africa and there's no pressure on our shoulders. Why can't we go there and cause a bit of stir?"
Korea DPR continue their build-up against DR Congo, while the day's other internationals see Azerbaijan host Macedonia, Ukraine take on Romania and the United Arab Emirates face Moldova. Four Scandinavian sides are also in action, with Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland tackling Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Poland and Andorra respectively.