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Team USA has April date with Republic

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Ireland is one of three top European sides lined up to face the United States as part of the Americans’ continued World Cup buildup.

Team USA will visit Dublin on April 17, on the final leg of a preparatory program that begins with a friendly against Italy in Sicily on Wednesday, Feb. 13, the United States Soccer Federation announced last week.

After Italy, the U.S. tackles Ireland’s Group E opponents Germany in another tuneup, in Rostock on March 27.

“Italy, Germany and Ireland are three of the most respected nations in football,” said U.S. national coach Bruce Arena. “To be able to play them before the World Cup represents a fabulous experience for our team. It will for sure give us a means to measure ourselves against the best,” he added.

Peak form

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Drawn in Group D against co-hosts South Korea, Poland and Portugal, the U.S. are enjoying early good form as evidenced by their success in the CONCACAF Gold Cup which ended at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, last Saturday.

Goals by Josh Wolff and Jeff Agoos steered the Americans to a 2-0 victory over a Costa Rican side that will also be at Japan/Korea.

South Korea, beaten 2-1 by the U.S. in a group match, finished fourth after a 2-1 loss to former champions Canada.

Dublin bound

Russia have named a crack side for their friendly with the Republic next Wednesday.

Among the players called up by coach Oleg Romantsev are Italian-based goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin; skipper and defensive stalwart Viktor Onopko of Spain’s Real Oviedo; midfield stars Alexander Mostovoi and Valeriy Karpin, who both turnout for Celta in Spain; and experienced forward Vladimir Beschastnykh (Spartak Moscow).

Russia are also headed for the World Cup finals where they are cast in Group H with Belgium, Japan and Tunisia.

Head games

Much-maligned Brazil put on a show in the first game of their seven-match pre-World Cup program, pasting Bolivia 6-0 in Goiania with five of the goals coming from headers.

Cris nodded in the ice-breaker before half time, providing the cue for midfielder Gilberto Silva (47th, 53rd), second-half substitute Washington (71st), and defender Anderson Polga (82nd). Kleberson (62nd) was the only Brazilian to score with his feet.

Under fire coach Luiz Felipe Scolari could afford to smile after the route.

“This result surprised me by being so large,” he remarked.

Brazil play Ireland’s Group E foes Saudi Arabia in another friendly today.

Mboma stars

Patrick Mboma, Cameroon’s rampaging forward, netted his third goal in four matches to power the defending champions into the semifinals of the African Nations Cup with a 1-0 victory over Egypt in Sikasso, Mali, on Monday.

Mboma, who struck in 1-0 victories over Congo and Ivory Coast in the first round, goes into the semis against Mali tomorrow (Thursday) as the tournament’s top scorer.

Earlier, the Cameroonians, Ireland’s first opponents in Group E, had completed group play with a hundred percent record after blanking Togo 3-0. Lucien Metomo (52nd), Samuel Eto Fils (75th), and Salomon Olembe (90th) tallied.

Nigeria, a member of England’s “Group of Fear” along with Argentina and Sweden, are also through to the semis in Mali after Garba Lawal’s second-half scorcher knocked out Ghana 1-0 in the quarterfinals last weekend.

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