Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 1st 2014 Contents A47
June 1, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
SAO PAULO---Fifa and Brazil-
ian organisers are downplaying
the fact that the final test event
at the stadium hosting the
World Cup opener won t be
held with a capacity crowd.
Only about 40,000 people
will be allowed at the Itaquerao
for a Brazilian league match
today, meaning that organisers
will not be able to fully test the
stadium before the inaugural
match between Brazil and Croa-
tia on June 12.
Fifa secretary general Jerome
Valcke last week said it was
"vital" to test the Itaquerao
"under full match conditions,
including the temporary seats."
But only some of the 20,000
temporary seats installed for the
opener will be used because of
safety concerns raised by local
Fifa and the local World Cup
organising committee said ideally
they would have preferred to
have a full crowd of nearly
70,000 people today, but noted
that the test event will still be
"extremely important" to help
making sure the stadium will be
ready for the opener.
The match between Corinthi-
ans and Botafogo will mark the
final test event at the Itaquerao,
which has been among the most
problematic venues ahead of the
Fifa usually wants three test
events in each venue before a
tournament such as the World
Cup, but it had to make excep-
tions in Brazil because of the
chronic delays in most of the
Football s governing body says
test events are crucial so officials
can monitor all operational areas
that will be used during World
Cup matches, including the
temporary facilities needed for
the media, communications and
technical teams. Organisers also
monitor the movement of fans
outside and inside the venues,
so having a full crowd is key for
a proper test.
"Not having a final test the
way it should, with a capacity
crowd, represents a risk both in
terms of safety and comfort---
things that a stadium like the
Itaquerao must have," said Adri-
ano Pires, an infrastructure ana-
lyst in Brazil.
"Are the electrical installations
adequate? Are the bathrooms
operating normally? And a host
of other questions must be
answered and for this, full test
events are necessary," he said.
The other test event at the
Itaquerao happened on May 18.
Local organisers said they were
mostly satisfied with the results
at the time even though they
admitted there were some prob-
lems, including a leaky roof.
Following that match, Fifa
opened an exception and
requested another test event "in
order to ensure the entire infra-
structure is tested at full capacity
ahead of the opening match."
But local authorities this week
did not allow the sale of all tick-
ets needed to pack the stadium
because of possible problems
involving rival fan groups. Only
one section of the nearly
installed temporary seats will be
Fifa and the local organising
committee said "structural tests
by the constructor were made
at both identical temporary
stands," and stressed that the
permit for one of them was
granted by local authorities.
They claim that not having one
of the stands tested in a match
before the opener will not be a
Today s match will have Fifa
and local organisers in charge of
most of the areas that have to
be tested before the opener.
"Sunday s test event will
review vehicle, pedestrian and
public transport accesses to the
stadium and internal flows such
as spectator facilities," their
The Itaquerao will host five
other World Cup matches,
including one of the semi-finals.
Constructors already said part
of the roof will only be fully fin-
ished after the World Cup. (AP)
Fifa downplays partial
test event in Sao Paulo BRUSSELS---Belgium is back in the World
Cup after 12 years, and with its hottest crop
of players in a generation.
With an incredible knack for timing, Bel-
gium s best have conspired to come of age in
one providential season which has seen them
taking on leading roles in England and Spain,
the toughest two leagues in the world.
It has even pushed national team captain
Vincent Kompany to mention the unspeak-
able---winning the World Cup in Brazil.
"I don t think we will be able to win the
World Cup on talent alone. But given some
luck, a strong performance by everyone and
the right team spirit...," the Manchester City
defender said, trailing off at the thought of
Belgium winning its first major title since the
The draw has also provided a helping hand,
putting Belgium in Group H with Russia, South
Korea and Algeria. Advancing from that group
should pose few problems for the Belgians.
From then on, the Red Devils have a few
men that could turn any game in a flash of
one brilliant action.
At 22, Thibaut Courtois has used his loan
stint from Chelsea to Atletico Madrid to
become the best goalkeeper in the Spanish
league. He was instrumental in leading Atletico
to the La Liga title and if he comes face-to-
face with Cristiano Ronaldo---which is possible
in the second round---he won t be intimidat-
ed.He may have lost the Champions League
final in extra time to city rival Real last week,
but what he will have earned in experience
could well be more important once he gets to
Up front, playmaker Eden Hazard is gaining
in poise and confidence almost by the week.
His play already made him a prized protege
of ever-demanding manager Jose Mourinho
as he pushed Chelsea among the top three of
the Premier League table.
No one could match Kompany s Manchester
City in the league, though, as he captained
his team to a second title in three years.
Calm and inspiration will not only be forth-
coming from Kompany. Just about all first-
team players earn their money abroad, from
Russia to Portugal over to Germany and Italy.
Yet, when it comes to the World Cup, just
about all will be rookies.
Then again, Marc Wilmots has the expe-
rience to make up for all. He played in four
World Cups and now is headed to his first as
Belgium surprised the world when it pushed
right into the semi-finals of the 1986 World
Cup in Mexico, stopped only by Diego
Maradona and eventual winner Argentina.
Wilmots got on board four years later as a
burly, ebullient midfielder, and in four editions
his team was often solid but not good enough
to reach the quarter-finals.
In Belgium s last World Cup match, it was
stopped by eventual champion Brazil in the
round of 16 at the 2002 tournament in South
Korea and Japan.
Now, Wilmots is bent on taking his team
"Everybody who has gotten past the first
round of a World Cup will tell you," Wilmots
told Le Soir newspaper, "it is the form of the
moment that will make the difference." (AP)
make Belgium a
Argentina has enough fire-
power to shatter any defence
at the World Cup. How its own
defence holds up could decide
whether the team clutches the
trophy for the first time since
With players like Lionel
Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel
Di Maria and Sergio Aguero,
Argentina s attack is second to
none. What other team could
afford to leave Carlos Tevez,
the top scorer for Italian cham-
pion Juventus this season, out
of its squad?
At the back it s a different
story. Goalkeeper Sergio
Romero isn t even a regular
starter for his French club
Monaco, and the defenders in
front of him aren t as awe-
inspiring as the men up front.
Coach Alejandro Sabella
consistently relies on fullbacks
Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo
but rarely fields the same cen-
tral defenders two games in a
row. Ezequiel Garay, Federico
Fernandez, Jose Maria Basanta,
Hugo Campagnaro and Fabri-
cico Coloccini have been paired
up in a variety of constellations
in recent games.
When Sabella announced his
provisional World Cup squad
this month he surprised many
by adding another central
defender: 33-year-old Martin
Demichelis who s coming off
a strong season with Manches-
ter City but hasn t played for
Argentina since 2011.
The relative weakness of the
defence showed in South
American qualifying. Led by
Messi and Higuain, Argentina
scored 35 goals in 16 games,
well ahead of any other team
in the group. But it conceded
15 goals, two more than sec-
ond-placed Colombia and just
one fewer than Ecuador, which
While that was no disaster,
it did raise questions over how
Argentina will deal with
tougher competition in Brazil.
"I, too, ask myself what will
happen with our defence when
we play against a powerful
rival," coach Alejandro Sabella
said at the end of the qualifying
Argentina s success also
depends on Messi, the four-
time world player of the year.
A series of injuries last year
raised some doubts about his
fitness, but he returned to
familiar goal-scoring form for
Barcelona this year. Only Real
Madrid s Cristiano Ronaldo
scored more goals in the Span-
Despite Messi s wealth of
club titles and individual acco-
lades, some say he needs to
win the World Cup with
Argentina to cement his place
among all-time greats such as
Diego Maradona and Pele.
Argentina has been World
Cup champion twice, but not
since Maradona lifted the tro-
phy in Mexico in 1986.
With a range of players at or
nearing the peak of their
careers, this could be the year
of the Albiceleste, currently
seventh in Fifa s world rankings.
Shoring up defence key for front-heavy Argentina
Biglia fight for
the ball during
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