COSTA DO SAUIPE, BRAZIL (AP) - The Amazon jungle city of Manaus was the big winner at the World Cup draw.
Branded “the place ideally to avoid” by England coach Roy Hodgson this week, the humid, steamy city far distant from the football hotspots of Brazil became the tournament’s must-see venue on Friday.
Manaus got lucky beyond its dreams despite being awarded just four group-stage matches at the 44,000-capacity Arena Amazonia.
England vs. Italy tops a 4-match World Cup bill on the opening Saturday, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal comes to play the United States on the second Sunday.
Two more European visitors must also trek northwards, for Croatia vs. Cameroon and Switzerland vs. Honduras.
Miguel Capobiango, World Cup coordinator for the Amazon state governor’s office, told The Associated Press: “We won the World Cup today.”