Brazil marks two years to start of 2014 World Cup

Brazil marked exactly two years until the 2014 World Cup gets underway on Tuesday, with former national team striker Ronaldo admitting that his country "can feel the responsibility increasing" as they prepare to host the tournament.

The South American nation will host the competition for the first time since 1950, with the opening match being played in the Arena de Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.

Preparations thus far have been dogged by worries over stadium projects and infrastructure improvements, with a FIFA report published last month suggesting that work to build or refurbish six of the 12 host venues may not be completed on time.

However, Ronaldo, the highest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup who starred as Brazil won the 2002 tournament and is now a member of the Brazil 2014 Organising Board, is hoping his country can stage a successful event.

"With every passing second we can feel the responsibility on our shoulders increasing," he told the official website of football's world governing body FIFA.

"We know it's getting closer and that it's not a dream, and we want to show over the next two years that we can perform off the pitch too, that we can stage a great FIFA World Cup with a Brazilian flavour to it."

Only a small percentage of Brazilians who are alive today can remember what happened the last time their country hosted a World Cup, with A Selecao losing 2-1 to Uruguay in the final match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

However, an entire nation is desperate to go one better in 2014 and win the World Cup for the sixth time.

"I was at the Maracana for that fateful loss to Uruguay. I was a soldier and it was my job to keep people off the pitch," said Mario Zagallo, who went on to win the tournament as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a coach in 1970 and as technical director in 1994.

"I'll never forget the silence, the sadness and the disappointment of that defeat in 1950.

"The time has come to stage the World Cup again and, God willing, to fill the Brazilian people with pride and joy at putting on a beautiful tournament and adding a sixth star to our jersey."

Qualification has already begun across the world for 2014, with over a third of all qualifying matches having been played.

Meanwhile, FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said he plans to return to Brazil in the coming days to check on the progress of construction projects.

"In only a few days, my team and I will be back in Brazil and plan to visit Brasilia and two other cities together with the Ministry of Sports and Ronaldo and Bebeto," he said, with the latter another former Brazil striker now on the 2014 Organising Board.

"While the players are the key protagonists on the field of play, the Host Cities and states are the key players to ensure that the best possible infrastructure is there for the teams, the officials and the millions of fans to have an unforgettable experience in two years time."

The country plans to spend billions of dollars on stadia and infrastructure over the next two years.

But costs for temporary installations such as space for fans, the media and guests were not factored into initial planning, meaning that the overall cost of hosting the event will be considerably higher than first estimated.

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