Brazil eyeing Maracana to kick off World Cup qualifiers

Brazil could open their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium, under plans being considered by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

The South American zone qualifiers are expected to begin in September, more than five months later than originally planned amid the coronavirus pandemic, writes Xinhua news agency.

Brazil’s opening home qualifiers – against Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina – had been earmarked for the cities of Recife, Brasilia and Sao Paulo, respectively.

However, the health crisis has prompted the CBF to seek alternatives in an effort to reduce travel times and allow the national squad to train close to match venues, according to the Globo Esporte news outlet.

It said the CBF’s preferred option for the first home fixture against Bolivia is to train at the national team’s traditional Granja Comary headquarters in Teresopolis, around 90km northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

The second and third home matches – slated for October and November – would be played at the Maracana or Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, the report added.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has said it is targeting the September 3-8 FIFA international window to launch its World Cup qualifying tournament.