Football Football

Bullish England land in Rio


ROONEY-LAMPSRIO DE JANEIRO, June 8- England touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday to launch their World Cup campaign after escaping unscathed from a bruising final friendly against Honduras.

The Three Lions caught an overnight flight to Brazil after Saturday’s 0-0 draw in Miami, which was interrupted by lightning and also featured some stormy moments on the pitch, including two full-blooded challenges that got Honduras’ Brayan Beckeles sent off in the 66th minute.

“It’s time for the real thing now,” England manager Roy Hodgson said after the match, breathing a sigh of relief that his squad were arriving in fighting form.

England will be based in Rio’s upscale Sao Conrado district and open their Group D campaign against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus on June 14.

The rest of the 32 World Cup teams continue trickling in to their base camps ahead of the June 12 kick-off match between Brazil and Croatia.

Germany, Algeria and Russia also arrived in Brazil on Sunday morning. Cameroon and Spain are due in the afternoon, bringing the number of teams on the ground to 20, including the hosts.

Several hundred cheering people greeted Germany as they arrived at Santa Cruz Cabralia in the northeastern state of Bahia and boarded a boat to take them to Santo Andre, where they will train at their specially built “Campo Bahia” base camp.

Fans waved Brazilian and German flags and music was played for the occasion.

Once the Germans, dressed in black suits, reached their hotel, they were also treated to a demonstration of capoeira martial-art style dancing.

Germany play their opening Group G match against Portugal on June 16.

Russia’s World Cup squad for their part had around 200 well-wishers as they set off from Moscow for the southeastern city of Campinas, outside Sao Paulo.

“The players are in a positive mood and are completely focused on the World Cup. They’re ready to show their best in Brazil,” said their Italian manager, Fabio Capello, as they set off for their first finals since 2002.

Russia kick off against Group H rivals South Korea on June 18.

Algeria, who open their campaign against Belgium on June 17, also arrived in Campinas.

The Desert Foxes have vowed to turn around their World Cup record in Brazil. They last won a match at the tournament 32 years ago and have only scored once in two subsequent appearances.