Vancouver Whitecaps winger Kekuta Manneh has boldly predicted that Roy Hodgson's England will win the World Cup this summer.

The Gambian told his club's official website that he sees the Three Lions going all the way in Brazil, and also backed the Ivory Coast and Belgium to impress.

"England has been my favourite country since I started watching soccer so I just like them and I think Ivory Coast has a really strong squad as well," said the 19-year-old.

"Every team in the World Cup has a really good squad but I just have a feeling they’re going to do well."
Marc Wilmots' Belgian side have been many pundits' selection as a dark horse after an outstanding qualifying campaign, and Manneh is no different.

"I think they will come and make a lot of noise. When you look at the past few seasons, their players have done really well. They have a young squad too that is very dynamic and very talented. They’re one of the best teams in the world now."

He added: "They have really good talent so it will be interesting to see how they do."

And the speedy youngster envisions a successful campaign for the Red Devils' chief goal threat Romelu Lukaku. The Chelsea forward was on loan at Everton last season, firing 15 goals in 31 league games, and Manneh now thinks that the 21-year-old will win the Golden Boot in FIFA's showpiece tournament.

"Guys like Ronaldo and Messi always have a difficult time in bigger competitions like the World Cup because everyone has their eye on them so it’s difficult for them to play.

"They will do great but I’m going to go with Lukaku. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people."

He wasn't so optimistic about European giants Germany though, calling a first-round exit for the fourth favourites. The three-time champions are in Group G with Portugal, Ghana and the United States, but Manneh forecasts a tough time for the two UEFA sides.

"A lot of people are saying Portugal and Germany are just going to go through easily. But I think it’s going to be really surprising. I don’t think Germany is going to make it out."

The former Austin Aztex youngster was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, and has impressed in his 17 months with the Whitecaps.

After an impressive first year, including a hat-trick against rivals Seattle Sounders FC, Manneh has earned a regular spot in Carl Robinson's lineup.

Vancouver's head coach is another man involved in the club's pre-tournament predictions, as he, Jay DeMerit and Marco Carducci picked Argentina, Brazil and Italy respectively as their prospective winners.

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Topics:
World Cup
MLS
Football
Vancouver Whitecaps
England Football