England lions not welcome in Amazon jungle
England coach Roy Hodgson has been told that he is not welcome at the Amazon World Cup venue of Manaus after publically expressing his reservations over the heat and humidity in the Brazilian jungle.
Hours before England were drawn to play Italy there at the World Cup, at least one local -- the city prefect -- was feeling hot under the collar over perceived disparaging comments by the England coach.
Hodgson had raised the temperature by saying in the build-up to the draw at the northeastern beach resort of Costa Do Sauipe that Manaus was to be avoided if possible.
Alas for Hodgson, not only will his Three Lions team take in the sultry delights of the city in the Amazon rainforest but four-times champions and Euro 2012 nemesis Italy will be the opposition.
Manaus prefect Arthur Virgilio Neto said just ahead of Friday's draw that he would rather other teams came to a city more famous for its opera house that its football.
"We prefer that England don't come. We will cheer for a better team coming here with more football and a more sensable and polite coach," said Neto on his Facebook page in comments reported in Friday's Brazilian media.
But after the draw Neto promised a cordial reception for the English.
"We shall surprise them with the hospitality of the Amazonian people. They will be very well treated without any hostility," Neto stressed.
State governor Omar Aziz also said that "we shall receive them with hospitality and politeness of our people."
Earlier, Neto had said of Hodgson: "He is one of the few people in the world not curious about the Amazon, who doesn't want to know Manaus."
On the pitch, England can console themselves with the fact the match will be an evening kick-off, when the sun has gone down.
Benefiting from the contretemps between the English and Manaus, wily Italian coach Cesare Prandelli did his best to bring Amazonians onside by praising the city.
"Manaus is indeed hot and humid. But it is one of Brazil's most beautiful cities," said the Italian.
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke was caught by one camera drawing his finger across his throat on hearing the draw had brought England further dangerous opposiion in the shape of twice champions Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Hodgson was forced to put a brave face on things.
"There were not going to be many scenarios where we were going to be jumping for joy. I suppose one positive is that we have only got one long trip."
Former England boss Graham Taylor noted that "we do not play our football in the heat of the summer," though technically, despite the heat, it will be winter in Manaus in June.
French coach Didier Deschamps was gleeful at escaping a tropical trip as he contemplated an easier draw in the shape of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras.
"Like all my fellow coaches there was this worry, even though they are beautiful areas, of playing in the north of Brazil, where the temperatures are very high," said Deschamps.
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