JOHANNESBURG - An African country has a great chance of winning the first World Cup to be played on the continent next year, according to former Ghana international Abedi Pele.
The 44-year-old Pele, one of Africa's greatest players, is now a member of FIFA's Football Committee and the technical committee which has been evaluating play at the Confederations Cup.
He told a media briefing on Tuesday that four African teams could reach the quarter-finals, two could make the last four and one could get to the final.
No African team has progressed beyond the last eight in a World Cup, but the three-times African Footballer of the Year said they would never have a better chance of winning football's ultimate prize than in South Africa next year.
Pele, a Champions League winner with Marseille in 1993, said: "African teams are coming to this African World Cup to showcase their talent and this is our best chance of getting close to the trophy itself.
"In the history of the World Cup only Brazil has won it outside their own continent, in Sweden in 1958 and in Japan in 2002.
"But here in Africa we will definitely have one team that will go far - and when I say go far I mean as far as getting the trophy. When I say this people laugh, but I believe it."
He said when he told members of the technical committee that African champions Egypt would beat Italy in the Confederations Cup, they all laughed.
"It happened and they had to admit I was right. I believe Africa is going to do very well. Look at Nigeria, look at Algeria, Ghana, these teams are growing so fast. It will be very tough for Egypt to qualify now for the finals, but look at South Africa.
"They have learnt about their weaknesses in this Confederations Cup, but they will get better over the next 12 months too."
The five African teams leading the qualifying groups are Gabon, who have never qualified for the World Cup, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Nigeria trail Tunisia by two points but drew 0-0 in Tunis at the weekend and have a home game to come against them.
"This is such a special World Cup," said Pele. "Everyone wants to be there. And this is Africa's best chance to win it. I think we will take it, because I don't think we will win it in Brazil in 2014," he smiled.comments