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Football: Coaches gather for World Cup seminar

World Cup coaches have gathered in the southern Brazilian city of Florianopolis for a series of pre-tournament seminars to discuss logistics.

FLORIANOPOLIS: World Cup coaches gathered Thursday in the southern Brazilian city of Florianopolis for a series of pre-tournament seminars to discuss logistics.

Brazil's 2002 winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari led the way as 24 of the 32 coaches arrived in the beach resort of Costao do Santinho a day after FIFA confirmed it is retaining Curitiba as one of 12 venues.

World football's governing body had warned the venue faced the axe with preparations lagging well behind schedule but agreed to give the Arena da Baixada a second chance after work was stepped up over the past month.

England's Roy Hodgson was arriving after a reconnaissance trip to the Amazonian city of Manaus, where his side will tackle Italy in the heat for their first group game before meetings with Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Hodgson's pre-draw comments that Manaus was a place to avoid given the venue's heat and humidity caused a storm locally but a letter to local authorities and his visit have repaired relations.

Seven coaches will not be at the workshop, including Germany's Joachim Loew, who attended Bayer Leverkusen's Champions League drubbing Tuesday by Paris Saint Germain.

Also not present is Argentina's Alex Sabella -- who would have had a warm welcome with the Santa Catarina region home to thousands of Argentinian expats.

Further absentees are the coaches of Algeria, Belgium, Chile, Italy and Japan.

Cameroon's veteran German coach Volker Finke, whose side will take on Brazil in their group, did make it -- but initially without his luggage.

"The cases are still in Sao Paulo. I hope they get here later," local media reported Vinke as saying as he headed for a spot of shopping for emergency supplies.

With less than four months to go, the meeting is to discuss finer details of the tournament, such as medical and media issues, accommodation and marketing.

Given the heat of some venues -- southern cities such as Porto Alegre will in fact be cool in what will be a Brazilian winter -- issues such as water breaks will also be discussed.

Coaches were later Wednesday to address the media while Thursday they will attend a security workshop ahead of a final press conference.

Friday sees a Local Organizing Committee board meeting.

Earlier, the Brazilian Football Confederation confirmed the dates of final friendlies with Panama and Serbia forming the opposition for matches on June 6 and 9.

The first match will be played in the central western city of Goiana and the second at Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium.

The hosts, five times champions, will name their final 23-man squad on May 7.

Their next warm-up is against South Africa in Johannesburg on March 5.

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