SAO PAULO (AP) — The stadium set to host the opening World Cup match in less than three months opened for a brief practice session on Saturday, with construction workers taking a break to watch players step on the field for the first time.
Although the Itaquerao stadium isn't expected to be ready before mid-April, Brazilian club Corinthians trained in a closed session open only to journalists.
The Itaquerao was one of the six stadiums expected to be finished by the end of 2013, but a crane collapse that killed two workers in November caused significant delays to the venue where Brazil will play Croatia on June 12.
Two other stadiums are unfinished ahead of soccer's premier event, one in the southern city of Curitiba and the other in the wetlands city of Cuiaba.
With cranes still in the background and a lot of infrastructure work yet to be completed outside, Corinthians players took to the field as a few hundred workers watched from the stands. A few dozen fans tried to get in but were not allowed because of safety reasons.
A priest from a church in the lower middle-class neighborhood where the stadium is located was invited to lead the players' prayer before the start of training. Official goalposts were still no used, but former Brazil midfielder Jadson had the honor of scoring the first goal in a scrimmage.