England manager Roy Hodgson thinks an African nation like Ghana or Nigeria have more chance of winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup than the traditional heavyweights from Europe due to climate similarities in Brazil.
Writing in the programme notes for the friendly game between Italy and Fulham that is due to take place at his former club Fulham next week, he said: “I think (African teams) may have a stronger chance than any of the European teams, to be perfectly honest, because of the climate.”
No African team has ever made it to the semi-finals of a World Cup, but Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal have all reached the quarter-finals and Hodgson believes the continent’s leading sides are equipped to make an impact at world football’s showpiece event.
“There are many African players out there of excellent quality now,” he added.
“They play in the top European leagues and that makes the African nations very strong. Nigeria have traditionally been one of the strongest, with some famous names in their team.
“Whoever is at the game on Monday night will see two very good teams and it will be an exciting outcome. Who knows, we may even see a little pointer for how things will go in Brazil.”
Reigning African champions Nigeria and their sworn rivals Ghana are touted as Africa’s biggest hopes at the global piece in the South American country.
The two super African soccer nations are within touching distance of qualifying to the World Cup following their impressive outings from the first leg play-off.
The Super Eagles managed a 2-1 win at Adis Ababa while the Black Stars walloped Egypt 6-1 from the first leg in Kumasi last month.
Ghana who had the best performance among the African teams at the last World Cup in South Africa will be aiming for a third consecutive World Cup qualification.
The Black Stars were within seconds of qualifying for the semifinals before they bungled the dramatic encounter that stretched into extra time and penalty shoot out.
Like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire will be aiming for a third consecutive World Cup outing. Tunisia, a late entry into the final 10, will hope to make up for the missing of the last edition when they were edged out by Nigeria.
Tunisia who holds the record of being the first African team to win a World Cup match when it came back from a goal down to beat Mexico 3-1 at Argentina ‘78, incidentally, has the unenviable record of having the longest no win streak in the World Cup.
Since their historic win on June 2, 1978, Tunisia have gone 35 years involving 11 matches without a win. Perhaps they may be rivalled in that regard by the Super Eagles who have not won a World Cup match in 15 years.
The last time Nigeria won a match in the World Cup was on June 19, 1998, when the Super Eagles beat Bulgaria 1-0 at the Pac des Princes in Paris.