Brazil legend Pele has tipped Nigeria to make it past the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
Cameroon and Senegal are the only African countries ever to reach the last eight of the competition, but Pele, on a visit to Nigeria, told reporters that the Super Eagles could usurp such performances at next year's tournament.
"With adequate preparation, it would not be a surprise to see an African team surpass even the quarter-final and get to the semi-final of the World Cup next year in South Africa, and Nigeria can do it," Pele told newspaper, Complete Sports.
"Ten years ago I started mentioning about how football in Africa will grow and get better and better.
"I was here some time ago and I saw a good team. I hope with Nigeria's excellent players in Europe, that is still the case."
Nigeria's best performances at the World Cup have been second round berths, both in 1994 and 1998.
Pele also saluted South Africa's showing at the recent FIFA Confederations Cup.
"Against all odds, South Africa surprised the world with a good footballing display. This was a strong demonstration that the gap between the so-called big countries and the lesser ones is closing by the day," the three-time World Cup winner said.
Pele, who was in Nigeria's capital city Abuja to canvass for support for Rio de Janeiro's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, also visited the West African country's President, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
Nigerian football fans will be hoping that Pele's forecast comes true, given his infamous history of predictions.
The Super Eagles are currently second behind Tunisia in their CAF qualifying group, with only the top team in each pool progressing to South Africa.
Samm Audu, Goal.com