GLENN HODDLE BELIEVES ENGLAND HAVE BEST WORLD CUP BASE
England's World Cup base in South Africa is “the best facility any of the nations have got”, according to former England manager Glenn Hoddle.
The Spurs legend visited the Bafokeng Sports Campus earlier this month and was hugely impressed with the venue.
“It's great. It really is a top quality training camp,” he told BBC Sport.
Hoddle's view will come as a relief to current England boss Fabio Capello as there were concerns building work would not been finished on time.
But Hoddle said the site, near Rustenburg in South Africa's North West Province, will definitely be ready, with only the venue's medical unit still to be finished.
The 52-year-old, whose England side lost on penalties to Argentina in the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup, reserved special praise for Bafokeng's six flood-lit pitches and described the complex's Royal Marang Hotel as “excellent”. If anything drastic happens to key players now there's no time to recover – it really is nerve-wracking for an England manager
The former Chelsea, Southampton and Spurs manager was also optimistic about England's chances in the tournament, which starts on 11 June.
“Brazil and Spain are clearly the favourites but things can go wrong for them – Spain have never been in this position going into tournament so it will be interesting to see how they cope,” he said.
“But outside those two there are probably six or seven nations who could win it and England are one of those.
“When I say we could win it, it's about playing seven matches, getting the rub of the green and keeping your key players fit, that's important. Italy proved that [in 2006].
“So it will be a test for us but yes we can win it. We've got a good team, it remains to be seen if we have we a great team. They've got a chance to prove that and make history.”
Hoddle and Paul Ince after England's 1998 exit against Argentina
Hoddle, who also went to the 1982 and 1986 World Cups during a 53-cap career as an England player, believes the current team should have few difficulties against their Group C rivals Algeria, Slovenia and the US, England's first opponents in Rustenburg on 12 June.
As recent tournament history would suggest, the real challenge will be getting past the quarter-finals. To do that Capello will need all his best players available, which is why Hoddle described the last few weeks of the domestic season as torture for an international manager.
“I know how Fabio is feeling because this is a nightmare time,” said Hoddle, who infamously left out a half-fit Paul Gascoigne from his World Cup squad.
“If anything drastic happens to key players now there's no time to recover. It really is nerve-wracking. Every time the phone goes on a Saturday evening you're thinking 'who is it this time?'”
With uncertainty still surrounding the fitness of key players such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, he sympathised with Capello but remained confident in the Italian manager's ability to deal with all eventualities.
Hoddle, whose most recent managerial job was at Wolves in 2006, was in South Africa looking for potential locations for a second Glenn Hoddle Academy, the finishing school he runs for young footballers rejected by their clubs at 18.
The first batch of players have just been through the Jerez-based programme and a dozen of them have been placed with new clubs, most of them in Spain's second flight.
Hoddle, who raised £4m to fund the academy in 2008, is currently in England holding trials for a second intake of prospects and has high hopes his business model of development fees, cuts of future transfer fees and sponsorship revenue will become self-sustaining in the near future.