Troubled Stadium Set For February Test

Cuiaba stadium, one of six World Cup arenas still to be completed, will be tested in the "second half of February" as organisers race to get the playing surface and seating finished. The Cuiaba ground, which should have been completed by the December 31 deadline and will hold 42 000 fans, will host its first game of the tournament on June 14 when Australia face Chile. "It is necessary to wait for the second half of February for it to be tested," said the Mato Grosso region's secretary of state, Mauricio Guimaraes. "Of course, we would have liked to have finished before December 31 (the original completion date laid down by world governing body Fifa), but this delay will have no impact on the World Cup. "As for the work to be done in the city, our objective is to be ready in June for our first match in the World Cup and the work on the airport will be finished in mid-April." Earlier this month, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke revealed that there were "some questions" over Cuiaba. Compared to Natal and Manaus, grounds that have confirmed their inaugurations with tests in January, Cuiaba appears behind schedule. Seats in the ground are not yet installed while the pitch, according to an AFP reporter, looks more like an unploughed field rather than a football pitch. "It will take 60 days for the pitch to be ready," admitted the stadium's chief engineer, Joao Paulo Curvo. Cuiaba is also due to host three other first-round matches - Russia v South Korea on June 17, Nigeria against Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 21 and the June 24 clash between Japan and Colombia. Apart from Cuiaba, two other grounds are causing headaches for Fifa and local organisers. Curitiba, which has suffered financial problems, should be ready by the "end of February". But the ground causing the biggest problems is Sao Paulo, which stages the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12. Two workmen were killed in a construction accident at the venue, and the official test event for the troubled ground is set for mid-April, say Fifa. SUPERSPORT