UK & World News

  • 7 December 2013, 20:16

World Cup: England's Opening Game Is Moved

England's World Cup chances have been dealt another blow after FIFA brought forward the kick-off time for their game in Manaus against Italy by three hours.

The game was scheduled to take place on June 14 at 2100 local time (2am UK time), but has now been moved to 1800 (11pm), when it will be warmer.

England had hoped to kick-off at night, but FIFA changed the time following pressure from broadcasters, who were concerned about viewing figures.

Two more games in Manaus - Portugal against USA and Cameroon against Croatia - have also been rescheduled for6pmlocal time.

FIFPro, the international footballers' union, had pressed FIFA not to have the earliest kickoffs in the hottest and most humid weather conditions.

The England-Italy switch means Ivory Coast against Japan will now start at 10pm local time (0100 GMT) in the tropical coastal climate of Recife.

England will face Uruguay five days later in Sao Paulo, before finishing their group match fixtures against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on June 24.

Last night, England manager Roy Hodgson said he was not put off by the difficult draw.

"There's no doubt that with Uruguay and Italy, we almost got two number one seeds in our group, because Italy were very unlucky (not to be seeded).

"I'm not disappointed and having at least two of the tree games in places where the climate is more favourable for us is a positive.

"What climatic differences we'll face up there (in England's opening match, against Italy) will be the same for both teams."

Speaking ahead of the draw, Mr Hodgson had said Manaus was the one venue he was keen to miss out on.

"The tropical nature of Manaus is the problem," he said.

"Manaus is the place ideally to avoid and Porto Alegre is the place ideally to get."

The opening game of the competition will see hosts Brazil take on Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo.

Should England qualify from their group, they will face either Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast or Japan in the second round.

The last time England faced either Uruguay, Costa Rica or Italy in the first round of the World Cup was in 1966 - the last and only time they have ever lifted the trophy.

Then, they played Uruguay in Group 1, drawing 0-0 at Wembley.

The groups in full:

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Cote d'Ivoire, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic