If you’re looking for football predictions, don’t listen to Pele. Yes, the Brazilian legend may be one of the greatest players to have ever graced a football pitch, but when it comes to impersonating a footballing Nostradamus, he falls well short.
In 1991, he forecasted that Nii Lamptey, star at that year’s Under-17 World Cup, would be the next Pele. He ended up strutting his stuff in Coventry. Sixteen years ago, he predicted that Colombia would get to the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup. They didn’t get past the first round.
It’s true that we should therefore not be surprised by his most infamous claim—that an African nation would win the World Cup before the turn of the last millennium. He was miles off. The furthest any African country has progressed in the tournament was when Senegal reached the Quarter Finals in 2002.
When South Africa was chosen as the host for this year’s World Cup, 2010 was immediately billed as Africa’s year. This would be the year that Pele had been referring to—he was only a decade out, give him a break!
Well, probably not. December’s draw was less than kind to the African nations, who have been placed in groups more difficult than previous tournaments which took place outside their continent.
The hosts South Africa find themselves in a group where it may be possible for them to progress. Even then, 2006 finalists France, a very functional Uruguay side and the flamboyant Mexico doesn’t exactly guarantee them a place in the last 16.
Nigeria probably have the best chance but will have Korea and Greece challenging them to finish in second place behind the Argentineans in Group B. Algeria have looked poor in warm up matches and will find it difficult to get past England and the USA while Ghana have lost their star man in Michael Essien and were unlucky to be drawn in the group of death alongside Germany, Serbia and Australia.
Cameroon will struggle to see off the Netherlands and Denmark, especially with captain Samuel Eto’o seemingly less than happy to be at that tournament. Ivory Coast, every person’s second favourite team at the last World Cup, have to beat either Brazil or Portugal and will find that tough—particularly without a fully fit Didier Drogba.
The evidence suggests it is, once again, unlikely to be Africa’s year, and it will prove very difficult for any of the teams to get past the second round. And for Pele’s prediction this year? He has suggested England could reach the semi-finals at least.
It looks like another quarter-final exit for Capello’s men then.Tweet