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All eyes on jungle city of Manaus in World Cup

AP - Sports

MANAUS, Brazil (AP) -- Manaus is the most remote of Brazil's World Cup cities, and probably the most fascinating, too.

With its industrial zone and trash-strewn slums, Manaus sits in the middle of the Amazon rain forest in far northwestern Brazil, surrounded by unmatched natural splendor.

It will be home to some very interesting matches as well, including England vs. Italy on June 14 and the United States vs. Portugal on June 22.

The city made headlines even before the World Cup draw last year, when England coach Roy Hodgson said it was ''the place ideally to avoid'' because of the humid and steamy weather in the region, remarks that insulted local officials and prompted an apology.

Kickoff times were moved from 4 p.m. local time to 6 p.m. to try to reduce the effects of the region's heat and humidity.

The 42,000-capacity Arena da Amazonia, with its lattice roof of diamond panels that look like snake scales, will also host Cameroon vs. Croatia on June 18 and Honduras vs. Switzerland on June 25.

Construction at the Arena da Amazonia was marked by three workers' deaths, including one who fell 115 feet (35 meters) while working on the stadium's roof.

Many in Brazil criticized the choice of Manaus as a host city because it is distant from the country's football centers and doesn't have traditional clubs or significant championships.

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