ATLANTA, Georgia (CMC) — Shaka Hislop has tentatively picked Brazil and Spain to meet in the final of the World Cup on July 11 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
But the former Trinidad & Tobago national goalkeeper, now a repected television analyst with American sports network ESPN, feels that Brazil will have to play remarkably well, following the selection of their final squad for the showpiece event.
"I have Brazil as the favourites right now to win the World Cup again," he told CMC Sports Wire in an exclusive interview on Thursday en route to the South African capital for the tournament, which starts next Friday.
"Although I have some doubts about the squad their coach Dunga has selected, and I am beginning to slowly change my mind. No player stands out for me in their squad, but I'll pick Brazil to win at this stage."
He said: "I think Spain is another side in the best position to win the World Cup. They have the best squad. They have the stand-out stars. Most of the other teams have one player that stands out, but they have five or six stand-out players, so I think they will also make the Final.
"Some people have also picked Argentina because of Lionel Messi, but I think in Diego Maradona, they have a coach that will let them down, if they reach the later rounds of the competition."
The 41-year-old Hislop, who kept goal in United States Major League Soccer, as well as the English Premiership for Newcastle, West Ham, and Portsmouth, also raised concerns about the newly-designed match ball, about which international net-minders have complained.
"Goalkeepers have been complaining about the ball for quite some time now, which Adidas has manufactured so that we can have more goals in the World Cup," he said.
"But the balls have gotten worse and worse over the last 10 years. I did not like the ball in 2006 at all, but one big difference with this ball is that outfield players are complaining as well.
"Many of the outfield players have been complaining about the exaggerated flight of the ball, and when they strike it, they cannot get a good first touch on the ball."
Hislop, who played 26 internationals for T&T, was a member the Soca Warriors squad, which reached the World Cup four years ago in Germany.
He will be a part of the ESPN commentary team on the matches in South Africa.
"It's a complete change from when I attended the World Cup as a player," he said. "It was difficult to sample the atmosphere that surrounds the World Cup when you are a player.
"You just trained, and played your games, and jumped straight back onto the bus, and head out again."
He said: "The World Cup is really a world event, and I want to experience all the colour, all the glamour, and all the fun that goes into making the World Cup the unique event that it is.
"I'll also be looking forward to the later stages, when we get past the first round, and the football is a lot more engaging and entertaining."
Hislop revealed that he never in his wildest dreams expected to be attending the World Cup as a commentator.
"It's not something for which I trained, but I am enjoying this part of my life," he said.
"All I try to do, rightly or wrongly, is give my honest opinions. Often times, I get it wrong, but tell me, which fan does not. I'm a fan at heart, who has had some playing experience, and I try to make sense of what is happening on the field in my analysis."
Hislop will feature in a special hour-long episode of ESPN's Soccernet Press Pass this weekend, when his special guests will be the England-born former Jamaica international Robbie Earle, and former France captain Patrick Vieira, and they will preview the World Cup.
It premieres on Saturday from 10:30 in the morning (East Caribbean Time) throughout the region on ESPN Networks.