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USA's Bocanegra warns England: It won't be easy to qualify

United States captain Carlos Bocanegra has warned England they will be in for a tough game against Slovenia when the sides meet in a World Cup Group C encounter in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

Former Fulham defender Bocanegra, now with French club Rennes, was part of a US defence twice cut open by Slovenia at Ellis Park yesterday as first Valter Birsa curled in a shot from 25 yards and then Zlatan Ljubijankic added a second three minutes before half-time.

The Americans fought back and Landon Donovan made it 2-1 three minutes into the second half before Michael Bradley secured a point eight minutes from time.

Asked what England could expect against Slovenia, Bocanegra told Press Association Sport: "They're very good, they're strong guys.

"(Robert) Koren and Birsa in the midfield did well and they had two big guys up front (Ljubijankic and Milivoje Novakovic) who work hard. They defend as a team really well and they hit us on two counters.

"It will definitely be a tough game for England, they're a good team."

Bocanegra lamented another poor start by his team, who also found themselves a goal down to England early on in their Group C opener before fighting back to claim a point.

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"We leave it late a lot," he said.

"We're angry at how the first half went but the guys had a look at themselves and collectively as a team we raised it in the second half. Our fitness levels showed up well, how we could push the game.

"Hopefully we can continue the way we played in the second half into the Algeria game, We've got to beat Algeria and if we get five points it should see us through."

The US were unfortunate not to claim all three points against Slovenia in the end as Maurice Edu's late goal was disallowed. Malian referee Koman Coulibaly saw a foul by an American player as Donovan's free-kick came into the box, but the official would not explain what his decision was to Bocanegra or his team-mates.

He said: "I don't feel like the referee needs to give me an explanation on every single play but sometimes you call a foul that is so important, you expect him to say 'it was a foul on such and such because he did this, get back and play' which is fine with me, then you get on with it. But there was nothing."

Asked if the referee's silence could have been a language issue, Bocanegra added: "No, he spoke French and English, so that wasn't a problem at all."

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