England manager Roy Hodgson insists he is hopeful his side can thrive in the tropical heat of Manaus despite having described the venue as “a place to avoid” ahead of the draw for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Hodgson’s team were given the short straw when they were drawn to play Italy in Manaus on June 14 in their opening World Cup group match.
It is a daunting assignment as humidity levels in the Amazon jungle can reach over 80 per cent during the Brazilian winter, with England’s players having little or no experience of playing in such conditions.
A pamphlet from the local tourist board warns of the possibility of coming face to face with alligators at night while poisonous snakes and spiders are also common in the jungle.
Speaking before the draw earlier this month, Hodgson had claimed he didn’t want to play there, prompting the mayor of the Amazonian city, Arthur Virgilio, to state England would not be welcomed in Manaus.
But Hodgson, while admitting it was still not an ideal place in which to play, is positive about taking his team there.
“I think most teams were rather hoping they were drawn in places where the climate is more favourable,” Hodgson said on Tuesday.
“But on the other hand, I understand the Brazilians want to spread this World Cup around the country and Manaus is a very important town and city in Brazil.
“Having thought about it, and seen how the group has panned out, I’m really embracing the idea of going there.”
Four games will be played in the city’s specially constructed Arena da Amazonia stadium during the tournament.
And Hodgson added: “It’s in the middle of the Amazonian jungle and the temperatures and humidity are much, much greater than any other place in the country.
“I’m not even certain that Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia would have been jumping for joy if they were drawn there as it’s a difficult place to play.
“I’ve never known Brazil, for example, to play any of their home matches in Manaus.”