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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 November 2007, 13:18 GMT
WCup glory delay
Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrate South Africa being awarded the 2010 World Cup
Africa is still waiting for its first World Cup winner

Pele's prediction that an African team would win the World Cup before the end of the last millennium never materialised.

And recent experience has dampened expectations of African glory as the continent prepares to host the tournament for the first time.

"We need to lift the expectations but maybe 2010 is too early... aybe in Brazil," said France's World Cup winning captain Marcel Desailly.

Cameroon's progress to the quarter-finals of the 1990 tournament in Italy raised hopes that Africa would be the next force in world football.

However, only one team, Ghana, managed to get past the first round last year in Germany.

2010 World Cup Ambassadors Marcel Desailly and Lucas Radebe
Both Desailly and Radebe are keen to see African sides improve

The semi-finals still remain unchartered territory for African countries.

Desailly, who was himself born in Ghana, believes they are likely to remain so when South Africa hosts the world's finest in three year's time.

"The tournament in South Africa? It will not change anything," Desailly said ahead of this weekend's draw for the qualifying rounds.

"I am not happy at all about the performances of the African teams since the US in '94."

That was when Nigeria knocked Argentina out in the first round before taking eventual finalists Italy into extra time."

Carlos Alberto Parreira, who coached Brazil to victory in 1994 and is now in charge of South Africa, believes Africa will put up a better showing with so many players now turning out regularly in Europe's top leagues.

We have to increase the level of the leagues in Africa.
Marcel Desailly, Former France captain

However, he acknowledges the continent's teams face a huge challenge.

"I believe this time, when you see the African players in Europe, in the big teams, they will do well. I am sure they will raise their performance," Parreira said.

"If we had one or two African countries reach the quarter-finals, it would be a huge success. If it was the semi-finals, it would be fantastic.

"We have to raise the barrier ... but it's very difficult.

"For three months they play (in Europe), then suddenly they've only got two days before a match. That's difficult for the team and for the coach."

Parreira said that inexperience was less of an excuse than in the past.

"I don't think it's inexperience. They were naive in 1986 and 90. Then they had the skills and technique but they were naive," added the Brazilian who has also coached Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the finals.

"Now 80 percent of some of the squads' players are in the big leagues."



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