Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Cherundolo up to tough tasks in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – Steve Cherundolo hasn’t had it easy so far in this World Cup. The right back has had some of the toughest defensive assignments on the US squad through two games, and he has responded with strong play in both games.

Against England, he neutralized James Milner so effectively, Fabio Capello lifted the left winger for Shaun Wright-Phillips after just 31 minutes. And the diminutive Manchester City speedster didn’t fare much better.

Against Slovenia, Cherundolo slowed down speedy left winger Andraz Krim and supplied Landon Donovan with the long ball that led to the Americans’ first goal in their rally from a 2-0 deficit.

Now, Cherundolo has another daunting assignment: the lethal left side of the Algerian attack, especially overlapping left back Nadir Belhadj. And the Rockville, Ill. native says he is prepared and ready for the Portsmouth marauder.

“He’s a physically talented player, he’s got good feet as well,” Cherundolo said from US base camp on Monday. “So we’re aware of his strengths and also his weaknesses.” 

Cherundolo will also have to help out on Wolfsburg left winger Karim Ziani, whom he has faced in German Bundesliga play.

“I’m just trying to do my part, keep my section of the field clean, and try to avoid any sort chances the opponent can create against us,” the Hannover deputy captain said. managing editor Jonah Freedman is reporting from South Africa all this month.