Brazil 'will meet World Cup deadline'

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RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's 2014 World Cup officials are lining up to debunk FIFA chief Sepp Blatter's suggestion they are behind schedule, with Rio de Janeiro state sports secretary Marcia Lins joining the fray on Wednesday.

"Blatter mustn't worry, the (construction) time frame will be met," Lins said in an interview with Reuters.

FIFA president Blatter criticised on Monday what he called Brazil's day-after-tomorrow attitude to their World Cup preparations.

He said political infighting was delaying work especially in Rio, which is to host the final at the giant Maracana stadium (pictured), and Sao Paulo where work has not yet begun on a venue to hold the opening match.

The Brazilian government and the local organising committee also said football's ruling body FIFA should not worry and invited Blatter to come and see for himself.

"If (FIFA) have doubts they can be clarified. They can come here and watch the work going on at the Maracana," said Lins, repeating the invitation to Blatter.

"We have cameras monitoring the works and the local organising committee have access. There are daily visits and inspections that will show the Maracana won't be a problem for the (2013) Confederations Cup," Lins added.

"The stadium will be ready in December 2012. There's no risk of that not happening."

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Lins said she was working on the basis of the Maracana being the main arena for the Confederations Cup which will act as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup a year later.

"It's a natural thing. One of the objectives of the Confederations Cup is to test the stadiums for the (World) Cup. The Maracana, apart from staging the final, will be used for other matches," she said.

"Rio is also the gateway to Brazil which gives the stadium even more relevance."

The project for the stadium's refurbishment is to be officially unveiled on April 19.

It will detail all the work to be undertaken including whether the run-down upper tier will be restored or rebuilt from scratch - which is expected to increase costs from 705 million reais ($428 million) to more than one billion.

"If we opt for restoring (the Maracana) it will get a new lease of life of something over 10 years," Lins said. "If we decide on reconstruction, that time could be 20, 30 years depending on the materials we use."