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Tradition and history against Africa

It is eight weeks to the start of the 2014 World Cup and predictions are being made on who will lift the coveted trophy.

This is the 20th edition of the World Cup. In the championship’s 84-year history from 1930 only eight out of the over 200 countries in the Fifa family have managed to win the coveted trophy. They are Uruguay (2) Germany (3), Italy (4), Brazil (5) Argentina (2) France, England and Spain (1 each).

Most of the World Cups have been hosted in South America or Europe. North America hosted the World Cup on three occasions, Asia once and Africa once

The facts and figures from all the previous World Cups speak volumes and provide us with a window into how teams are likely to fare at the 2014 showpiece in Brazil.

For example, every time the championship was held in South America a country from that continent won it. European countries had always won the championships held in Europe. It was only Brazil that broke that tradition in 1958, when Sweden hosted the event.

On the few occasions that other continents had hosted the event, the World Cup became a much more open contest, even though, eventually, the ultimate winners were still limited to the same two dominant continents – Europe and South America.

To date, South America have hosted the World Cup six times. Apart from 1930 and 1950, when Uruguay and Brazil hosted, the final matches had always been between South America and Europe, with South America winning.

On the table listing previous world champions, the dominant two continents are as follows:

Europe – Italy, Germany, England, France and Spain

South America – Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil

Not surprisingly, all these countries have qualified for this year’s World Cup.

Keeping these facts and figures in mind we can safely start to assume and draw certain conclusions as Brazil 2014 draws nearer.

The first deduction is that with Brazil as hosts a South American country will win the 2014 World Cup.

The second is that the final match will be between South America and Europe once again. It has happened that way in two out of four previous championships. The exceptions were in the distant past, in 1930 and 1950.

A third and closely related observation is that of the six South American countries going to the World Cup (Uruguay, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil) only three have a record of having won it previously. For that reason alone, since 1978, the three countries can reasonably also start to assume they can repeat a similar feat in the 2014 championship. It is unheard of that a new team would just suddenly emerge from ‘nowhere’ in South America to win the World Cup. It will either be Brazil or Argentina.

Brazil, as 2014 hosts, driven by the very important victorious rehearsal in the 2013 Confederations Cup, buoyed by anticipated support of colourful, informed and vociferous fans who are used to winning, will come out firing on all cylinders.

Brazil have a rounded team led by mercurial Neymar. They are clear favourites, with most pundits and analysts tipping them to go all the way and win it.

Argentina have the best midfielders and strikers in the world at the moment – Sergio Aguero, Higuain Gonzalo, Angel de Maria, Mario Tevez, Palacio Rodrigo and Lionel Messi. If any team from South America can stop Brazil (for that’s the team that must be stopped) and win the 2014 World Cup, it would surely be their closest neighbours and perennial rivals, Argentina, with their armada of world-class players.

Uruguay will probably have to be content with looking back at their wonderful performance at the 2010 festival of football in South Africa. For Brazil 2014, however, their team does not look quite as good or as convincing as the 2010 team. In 2014, their chances of winning against either Argentina or Brazil look slim.

Europe, of course, will be out to upset the applecart and rewrite history. With a formidable array of teams and players participating, European countries will probably make the 2014 World Cup one of the best ever in terms of the quality of football.

North America, Oceania and Asia will pose little or no threat to the South Americans and Europeans.

Africa is the last ‘frontier’. Two months to the start of the World Cup it is probably a safe bet that none of the five African representatives will win the 2014 World Cup. Not history, nor tradition, or even the present strengths of the African teams indicate anything to the contrary.

So, that’s how far the extrapolations can go. The rest will be down to other factors beyond history and traditions, such as other critical developments along the route to Brazil – luck, the weather conditions, the fans’ support, injuries to key players, the current form of the players, the administrative state of the teams, the levels of motivation and the character of the teams.

These are the factors that would mostly affect and influence what happens to the African teams as they begin their monumental challenge.

History and tradition say that Africa will not win the World Cup in Brazil.

We shall wait and see…

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