World Cup 2014 Gossip Roundup: Brasilia Stadium Springs a Leak
The World Cup trophy tour reached Bangkok this week as anticipation grows ahead of the summer's tournament. With 2014 now upon us, the competition is within touching distance and attention will now increase by the week.
There was a minor hiccup in Brazil this week as the roof at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia sprang a leak, but elsewhere international managers were busy giving interviews as preparations continue in earnest.
Players now have just a few months to earn their place at the competition, while managers are busy putting finishing touches to their plans and squads for the summer tournament.
Let's, then, take a look at some of the latest World Cup 2014 news stories from around the world.
Mane Garrincha Stadium Leak Draws Headlines
The organising committee of the 2014 World Cup, SECOPA, has asked for an explanation from the agency which operates the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia after a roof leak during a women's international between Brazil and Chile.
Per Mercopress, local reports commented that supporters in the lower tier of the stadium were left soaked after the roof failed to deal with heavy rainfall during the encounter.
SECOPA, though, have moved to downplay any concerns that the relatively minor problem would have any effect on the World Cup next summer or any future events.
A statement read: “Because it is a new, grandiose and complex stadium, some small points are still being corrected and tested but there is nothing that compromises the running of the stadium or the holding of events there."
The report states that the stadium comes with a five-year guarantee, during which time all repairs will be funded by the construction firm rather than the already stretched Brazilian public purse.
Hodgson Offers World Cup Hope to Youngsters Morrison and Barkley
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme, England manager Roy Hodgson has suggested that young stars Ravel Morrison and Ross Barkley have real hope of earning a World Cup place this summer.
Both players have been particularly impressive in the Premier League this season, adding real quality and dynamism to their respective midfield while keeping experienced colleagues out of their sides.
When asked about the duo's prospects, Hodgson commented:
This time last year Wilfried Zaha was suggested as a shoe-in for the squad, but he's been usurped by Ravel Morrison and Ross Barkley, and, who knows, their places might be usurped.
I think those two players [Morrison and Barkley] must realise we do have great faith in them and enormous admiration for their talent. We think they will be exceptional players but they have got to perform week-in, week-out and make sure, at West Ham and Everton respectively, that they are on that team sheet.
If they can do by keeping more experienced players out the team then, come May, their names will be in serious discussion.
With many in England already dismissive of the team's chances in Brazil, there would be strong support for the inclusion of talented young players, with the players named among the brightest of England's next generation of stars.
Prandelli: The World Cup Has Already Started
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has been speaking about the difficulties his Azzurri side will face at this summer's competition, declaring that "the World Cup has already started" following the draw last month.
Prandelli was speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, reported by Sky Sports, and conceded that the draw could have been kinder, while conceding that Italy are not among the favourites for the tournament.
However, the Italy coach was quick to insist that his side could beat any side in the tournament—even if they will not be the strongest team in Brazil.
He told the newspaper:
Our one is a really difficult group, with three national teams who have been world champion. The first aim is to qualify, probably as first of the group. Against England we have played a sensational game at the 2012 European Championship, but we didn't score and we qualified at penalties.
Against Uruguay we suffered in the second half of the final for the third place at the Confederations Cup and we won again at penalties. Anyone talks about Costa Rica, but I've started studying them. The World Cup has already started.
Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain are the favourites. Let's leave from our mind that we are the strongest; we aren't. We are no more the best but we can beat the best.
Italy's last World Cup success came in 2006 when now-Guangzhou Evergrande manager Marcello Lippi led the Azzurri to a remarkable success against the odds in Germany.
Iran Boss Carlos Queiroz Tips Cristiano Ronaldo to Shine at Brazil 2014
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has tipped compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to come to the fore at the 2014 World Cup, hailing the Real Madrid star as "the most complete player" he has coached.
Per Goal.com, Queiroz paid tribute to his former charge, comparing Ronaldo with basketball icon Michael Jordan—often considered the greatest player of all time.
However, Ronaldo has often faced criticism of his performances at major tournaments for his country, having never turned good showings into a truly great performance.
Queiroz, who will be at the tournament with Iran, believes that Ronaldo is now better equipped to deal with the pressure and tipped him to shine in Brazil.
The former Manchester United assistant and Portugal head coach said:
Ronaldo is the most complete player I have ever coached in my life. In terms of fitness, ability, technical, tactical. One day at United, I don't remember when, I said he would be the Michael Jordan of football.
I can see in the last two years Cristiano growing up a lot, but he had everything. He had a little bit of Brazil legend Ronaldo, Figo—the speed, heading. He's fantastic at shooting with both feet, free-kicks, dribbling, passing.
I think he is more mature now, more experienced. Four years in a player's career is a lot and it can make a huge difference. I think this will be his third appearance in terms of World Cup participation, so he will be able to manage the performance much easier.
Ronaldo's Portugal face Germany, Ghana and USA in Group G of the competition and will be hopeful of pushing on into the later stages of the tournament.