The World Cup Countdown: Hail hits the Itaquerao

[BRAZIL 2014] Forget small details like its roof, which won't be finished in time, but Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium, site of the opening game of the World Cup was the last of the 12 World Cup stadiums to undergo operational tests ordered by FIFA to determine its readiness. The local organizers seemed happy with Sunday's test match, but some of the 40,000 fans not covered by the roof were less happy as rain and hail forced them to flee for cover. On top of that, the home team Corinthians dropped its first official match at the stadium to Figueirense, 1-0.

Dress rehearsals have been held at all venues to check out 12 operational areas: safety and security, volunteers, spectator services, game management, cleaning and waste management, transportation of the teams and officials, media operations, TV operations, technology, medical services and catering and protocol.

“We are very satisfied," Ricardo Trade, CEO of the local organizing committee, said after the game. "Obviously, there are still things we need to improve, but that’s exactly what this test was for -- to see where we need to make changes to ensure we get off to a great start on June 12. We feel very proud to see the stadium like this, though.”

Trade's remarks did not reference the roof, which won't be finished until after the World Cup.

“The only aspect of the roof which will be unfinished is the inner liner, not impacting the effective protection of the stands,” the local organizing committee said in a statement it later released. “A glass finishing will also not be concluded, which similarly does not jeopardize the effectiveness of the roof. It is important to highlight that there is no obligation, neither from FIFA nor from the local organizing committee, that FIFA World Cup stadia offer roofs protecting 100 percent of the stands."

Roster Updates ...

FULHAM FLOP KEEPS GREEK SPOT. Greece followed Portugal in cutting it World Cup squad down from 30 to 23 players on Monday. Constantinos Mitroglou was included even though he flopped at Fulham, going without a goal in three games after his $18 million transfer from Olympiacos in January.

Coach Fernando Santos' squad included six in Italy, two each in England, Spain and Turkey and one each in Germany and Scotland

World Cup 2014 Squads:
Group A: Brazil (23) | Cameroon (28) | Croatia (30) | Mexico (23)
Group B: Australia (30) | Chile (30) | Netherlands (30) | Spain (30)
Group C:
Colombia (30) | *Greece (23) | Ivory Coast (28) | Japan (23)
Group D
: Costa Rica (26) | England (23) | Italy (30) | Uruguay (25)
Group E:
Ecuador (24) | *France (23) | Honduras (23) | Switzerland (23)
Group F: Argentina (30) | Bosnia-Herzegovina (24) | Iran (28) | Nigeria (30)
Group G: Germany (30) | Ghana (26) | *Portugal (23) | USA (30)
Group H: Algeria (30) | Belgium (24) | Russia (23) | South Korea (23)
*Updated roster.
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