Welcome to the second edition of my weekly World Cup countdown diary. We'll leave out the Qatar controversy to focus on matters 2014, but you can read more on that shocking story here.
We start with a countdown clock.
First stop, Africa.
Prayers for the Super Eagles
Nigeria's Senate President, David Mark, is understandably desperate for his nation to reach the World Cup next summer. Nigeria must negotiate a tricky playoff against Ethiopia first, and Mark is calling on God to help the Super Eagles through.
As per AllAfrica.com, he has asked for prayer warriors in Nigeria to pray for the team's progress—citing their African Cup of Nations success as evidence prayers can make a difference. Here's an extract from the report:
He (David Mark) said that the senate's prayer was very efficient in the last Nations cup early this year in South Africa in which the Super Eagles emerged champions of Africa and that such prayer was also needed for the qualification of the Super Eagles in the Brazil 2014 World cup.
He told the prayer warriors to bring out their rosaries to embark on intensive novena and prayers for God's guidance to ensure that Nigeria emerged successful in the encounter in the first leg in Addis Ababa.
Diego Costa to play for Spain?
Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari has picked his squad to play friendlies against Korea Republic, who will be at the Finals next summer, and Zambia, who will not.
There was no place for Kaka nor Atletico Madrid's in-form striker Diego Costa, but Scolari has stressed there's still time for players to earn a spot in his 23-man squad for the World Cup next June and July.
"The group is not yet closed," Scolari told FIFA.com.
Costa may make his decision for him. According to this Goal.com report by Ben Hayward, the 24-year-old has said, "it would be an honour" to play for Vicente Del Bosque's Spain. His Spanish citizenship makes it a possibility.
One of the most intriguing venues is the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, to Brazil's north and, as the stadium name suggests, in Amazonian rainforest territory. Here's a great CNN clip looking at the area and the development project:
And here's a picture of how the stadium will look on completion:
B/R articles to read this week