England World Cup pitch fears - but at least the hotels are cheap
State of the pitch at venue of England's opener in Manaus is cause for concern
IF ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson didn't already have enough to worry about ahead of June's World Cup, now comes news that the pitch for their crunch match with Italy is in a state of disrepair.
A succession of limp performances from Hodgson's Three Lions has cast doubt on the credibility of England to launch a serious challenge for the World Cup in Brazil, and his side need to get off to a flier in the opening match against Italy at Manaus on June 14.
But The Guardian reports that for that to happen, the pitch in the Amazonia Arena will need a lot of work between now and then. The paper says that sections of the pitch are "undergoing emergency repair due to seriously undernourished grass" just two weeks after the stadium hosted its first match between local sides Nacional and Remo.
Despite heavy rainfall in Manaus over the last few months the grass in the stadium is dry and, in one of the penalty areas, almost non-existent. Consequently the company who supplied the Bermuda grass for the arena have been ordered to rectify the problem immediately, and green crystal chemicals have reportedly been used with Jerocilio Silva, state official for the stadium, declaring: "That's the treatment for it to blossom again."
The Amazonia Arena was built at a cost of early £173m, around £42m more than the original estimate, and its construction has been dogged by controversy. Three workers lost their lives on the project in a race against time to have it ready for June. As well as England's mouthwatering clash with Italy, the stadium will host three other pool matches, including Portugal versus the USA and Cameroon against Croatia.
The presence of both England and the USA presents challenges to the Brazilian security forces, a point acknowledged by General Ubiratan Poty, chief of the Amazonian military. "[It] represents a concern for us, because people target those two countries for terrorism actions," he said. "Our national intelligence agency has not yet provided us with the report of the threats, but one way or the other we will have extra attention for those two teams, where they are training. One hour before and three hours after their games all the air space in the region will be closed."
But it's not all doom and gloom for England fans planning to follow their boys to Manaus. According to the city's local paper, A Crictica, Manaus offers the best rate for hotel rooms among the World Cup's twelve host cities. A room for a night in the city will set back fans 375 Brazilian Real [£96], while in Rio the prices rises to £277. The most expensive host city is Cuiaba, in the west of the country, where the average cost of a room is £407.