SAO PAULO: Better late than never progress is at last evident in the much-delayed Arena Corinthians which hosts the Opening Match of the World Cup finals between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.

The senior squad of host club Corinthians have held their first training session in the stadium whose delivery date was put back from January 20 to April 15 because of constructions delays.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo insisted last week that the stadium was 97pc ready though cranes and scaffolding are still in evidence, hundreds of seats have yet to be installed while access zones are still under construction.

However, with the pitch laid and apparently in good condition, the Corinthians players undertook a light training sessions in the presence of Father Rosalvino, priest of the diocese of Itaquera, who blessed the stadium, the club and Brazil’s World Cup bid.

Some 200 workers were allowed to stop work to watch the session led by coach Mano Menezes – who was sacked as Brazil boss just before the Confederations Cup draw in SAo Paulo in December 2012.

Corinthians plan to play at least two friendlies as test matches before the World Cup kickoff. Menezes said that the pitch was “up to the best European standards.”

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