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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Tim Howard is urging the USA not to slip-up against Caribbean minnows Antigua and Barbuda.

The Blues goalkeeper is away with the American national team, who commence their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign against the little-known twin-island nation in the early hours of Saturday morning (kick-off midnight BST).

After impressing on the biggest stage in South Africa two years ago, the US recorded their first-ever win over Italy and have moved up to 28th in the FIFA world rankings.

But ahead of two fixtures against lesser-known footballing nations, Howard reiterated the importance of treating the games just as seriously as their biggest clashes.

“We don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing how to perform,” he said. “We’re always having to impress.

“We’re a smart enough group, top to bottom, to know what the days following Antigua will look like if we slip up."

Antigua and Barbuda are competing in this stage of the competition for the first time and have a squad mostly compiled from a team playing in the third division of the US league.

A second qualifying fixture against Guatemala follows midweek and Howard is eyeing both matches eagerly.

"They're two different teams," the veteran stopper said.

"Going away for qualifying is always difficult, so that will be a big challenge for us against Guatemala.

"For Antigua, we're at home, so we need to win that game. We need to really put a lot of pressure on them and make them feel like they're going to be in a really difficult game."

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