England drawn to play Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay in 2014 World Cup ‘Group of Death’

England manager Roy Hodgson
England manager Roy Hodgson
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ENGLAND will face Italy in Manaus in their first game of the 2014 World Cup.

The Lions have also drawn to play Uruguay and Costa Rica in the tournament in Brazil.

Roy Hodgson’s men will open their Group D campaign on Saturday June 14.

They must then head to Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte for their meetings with Uruguay and Costa Rica on June 19 and 24 respectively.

The drawn comes after the mayor of Manaus told England they were not welcome there during the World Cup because of Roy Hodgson’s comments regarding the jungle city’s climate.

At a press conference in London on Monday Hodgson raised his concerns about the prospect of playing in Manaus, north-west Brazil, because of the humid conditions in the city, which lies deep inside the Amazon rainforest.

“Manaus is the place ideally to avoid,” the England boss said.

“The tropicality of Manaus is the problem. It will be a difficult venue for everyone, but for northern European players it will be a little bit harder.”

There did not seem anything inflammatory about Hodgson’s comments at the time. His concern about humidity levels, which can reach over 80 per cent during the Brazilian winter, appeared to be perfectly valid given that English players have little or no experience of playing in such conditions.

But the mayor of the Brazilian city has taken offence. Arthur Virgilio said in a statement on his Facebook page: “We would prefer that England doesn’t come.

“We hope to get a better team and a coach who is more sensible and polite. He’s one of the few people in the world who is not curious about the Amazon, who doesn’t want to know Manaus.”

Virgilio reckons Hodgson, whose team are big outsiders for the tournament in Brazil, is getting his excuses in early.

“To make excuses shows lack of enthusiasm and self-confidence,” Virgilio said. “Fortunately the English people are different than Mr Hodgson.”

Manaus has little football heritage, but organisers wanted to take the World Cup there to raise the profile of the sport in the city.

Four games will be played at a specially constructed stadium in the city during the tournament, which begins in June when temperatures can reach well over 30 degrees centigrade.