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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

FIFA WC: Pulisic vows to be back for Dutch showdown

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Doha: Christian Pulisic has assured USA fans that he will be fit for their FIFA World Cup Round of 16 clash with Netherlands, despite requiring hospital treatment for an injury sustained while scoring the only goal of their 1-0 victory over Iran.

The Chelsea midfielder was substituted at half-time having attempted to soldier on following a heavy collision with goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand as he bundled home Sergino Dest’s intelligent headed centre in the 38th minute.

With their last-16 fixture taking place on Saturday, there were inevitable concerns that USA’s star man would not be fit to feature.

However, in a social media post from hospital, Pulisic said: “So proud of my guys! I’ll be ready Saturday don’t worry.”

Pulisic has been involved in both of USA’s goals at this year’s tournament, and only Landon Donovan in 2010 (three goals) has ever contributed to more for the team at a single World Cup.

“He was taken off due to injury,” coach Gregg Berhalter said. “He was taken to hospital as a precaution. It was a blow to his abdomen, an abdominal injury.

“We FaceTimed him after the game from the locker room, we got to see him and he’s in good spirits.

“The goal was something we’d been taking about for a while, to get the team to shift over to one side.

“That’s the special quality Christian has, as soon as the ball is wide, he goes in with intensity, he crashes the box and makes it very difficult with his change of pace.”

The US have only reached the World Cup’s quarterfinals on one previous occasion (in 2002), but Berhalter says they are not content with their achievements to date.

“It’s a great opportunity, but we’re not going into it thinking it’s an honour. We deserve to be in the position we’re in, we don’t want to go home,” he said.

“Now it’s about how we recover and prepare to play against this Dutch team, who have a very clear idea and are very well coached. We have to come up with a way to beat them.”

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