RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian sports and city officials are hoping to persuade England to come and play the record five-times World Cup-winners next spring to reopen Maracana after its pre-World Cup redevelopment writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Rio de Janeiro stadium, built originally with a 200,000 capacity for the 1950 finals, is scheduled to be completed in time for next summer’s Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup warm-up tournament.

However the Football Association, which celebrates its 150th anniversary next year as the original national federation, may struggle to fit such a trip into its programme.

The party will be opened in England with a friendly against the Brazilians at Wembley next February 6.

Officials of the Brazilian confederation and the city of Rio want to stage a return friendly in Maracana which is, reportedly, two-thirds of the way towards completion. They hope the building work will be completed by next February with ‘furnishing’ to follow ahead of three matches in the Confederations Cup.

Maracana will stage seven matches at the World Cup including the Final.

Brazil are keen to put together a series of testing friendlies because, as World Cup hosts, they are not tested in the qualifying competition.

Brazil play Argentina home and away in a ‘Superclassico da Americas’ on September 19 in Goiana and October 3 away to Resistencia. They face Japan on October 16 in the Polish city of Wroclaw.

** Brazilian club Palmeiras have sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari, former Brazil, Portugal and Chelsea coach.



# # # #