Roy Hodgson is not writing off England's chances of becoming the first European team to win a FIFA World Cup in South America. The Three Lions begin their quest to reach Brazil 2014 next Friday when they take on Moldova in Chisinau.

England face a group emerging from a group where the greatest dangers appear to come from UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts Ukraine and a Montenegro side who held them to two draws in the recent European Championship qualifying campaign.

However, the real problems will surely start if England get to Brazil. Hodgson has already spoken of the difficulties that his players will encounter through the sheer scale of Brazil and the different conditions they might encounter.

And, as any historian would know, obstacles to European teams in South America have been so great that the four previous tournaments to be held on the continent have been won by Uruguay (twice), Brazil and Argentina. "There's no doubt playing on your own continent is a major advantage," said Hodgson.

"But if you watch the last two victories by Spain, most people would agree the quality of their football would compare with the Brazil teams of the past so maybe the gap is getting smaller. People are entitled to an opinion but it doesn't interest me. I don't think they actually said we had much chance of winning the World Cup in 1966."

I'd much rather someone else bears the burden of being favourite to win a World Cup. But if we get there I am pretty certain I will have a very competitive group of players.

Roy Hodgson, England manager

Unquestionably, England would head to Brazil with expectations even lower than the sombre assessment of their chances in Poland and Ukraine this summer. Not that Hodgson is bothered about that either. In fact, he would prefer it. He said: "We won't be favourites if we qualify but I am not unhappy about that.

"I'd much rather someone else bears the burden of being favourite to win a World Cup. But if we get there I am pretty certain I will have a very competitive group of players."

It should be an excited bunch as well. England may be the home of football, but Brazil is the most glamorous nation associated with it. Not that strutting their stuff at the home of the five-times champions should be any great incentive. "The players wouldn't need me to say that," he said.

"I would be a bit disappointed if one of my team talks needs to be 'listen lads this is the chance to qualify for a World Cup in Brazil give it your best shot'. I like to concentrate on the basics.

"At the moment it's Moldova and then Ukraine. It's important we play well in every game because these days all groups are much closer than many believe them to be and it's by no means certain the favourite will win it."