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Hodgson hopes Brazil’s ‘holy grail’ stadium is built in time for England

The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro prior to the rebuilding work. Photo credit: Matthew Ashton The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro prior to the rebuilding work. Photo credit: Matthew Ashton

Thursday, November 29, 2012
7:00 AM

England manager Roy Hodgson is “desperately hoping” the rebuilding of the Maracana will be completed in time for their friendly with Brazil next June.

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The South American side are due to welcome Hodgson’s men next year in their iconic 7/8Rio de Janeiro stadium as part of the celebrations for the Football Association’s 150th anniversary.

However, the Maracana, which is due to host the 2014 World Cup final, is currently undergoing major reconstruction and there are questions whether the building work will be finished by the time England head there.

“It’s almost like a holy grail so I’m desperately hoping they get the pitch ready in time,” Hodgson told BBC1.

“But if they don’t it’s still a great game and I’m still more than happy to play Brazil wherever they want to play us.”

The fixture will provide England with the perfect opportunity to sample the playing conditions ahead of the World Cup should they qualify from Group H, which is not a foregone conclusion.

The Three Lions currently lie second in their group and face a tough trip to leaders Montenegro next year.

“The one thing I can assure all of the England football fans is that the players, there’s nothing they want more (than to qualify),” added Hodgson.

“They’d had have been more than happy to go and play a World Cup on the Galapagos Islands, let alone Brazil.

“I think if we got here then we would believe in ourselves, we would have a good chance.”

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