England manager Roy Hodgson thinks that an African nation has more chance of winning next year’s World Cup than a European one.
England are preparing for their final two friendlies of a turbulent yet successful year in which they qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. There, they will be joined by a whole host of European sides such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and holders Spain, who are one of the favourites.
Yet Hodgson believes an African country has more chance of succeeding. “I think [African nations] may have a stronger chance than any of the European teams because of the climate,” wrote Hodgson in programme notes for the Nigeria v Italy game, which is taking place at his old club Fulham next week.
Pele once claimed that an African nation would win the World Cup by the end of the 20th century. That did not happen, but Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal reached the quarter-finals in 1990, 2002 and 2010 respectively.
The five African nations bound for the World Cup will be decided upon the culmination of a play-off next month. As it stands, Burkino Faso (ranked 52nd in the world), Ivory Coast (17th), Nigeria (33rd), Ghana (23rd) and one of Tunisia (47th) and Cameroon (59th) look set to qualify.
“There are many African players out there of excellent quality now,” Hodgson added. “They play in the top European leagues and that makes the African nations very strong.”