Rio de Janeiro: Former Brazil striker Romario, having slammed his country's preparations to stage the 2014 finals, adopted a more conciliatory tone on a visit to the Local Organising Committee on Friday.

Romario said fellow World Cup winner Ronaldo, named this month to the LOC's administrative council, had fortified Brazil's preparations.

Meanwhile, late starters Sao Paulo were praised by the LOC for the speed of work on the new Itaquerao stadium but delays at the Maracana were still a concern.

"(Ronaldo's) credibility is everything to make the competition a success. Now, Brazilian football and the Cup have a face," Romario, now a member of parliament said.

Apart from Ronaldo, the council will be made up of Ricardo Teixeira, president of both the Brazilian Football Federation and the LOC, and another person yet to be named.

Romario told Reuters in an interview in October that Teixeira was hindering preparations by not communicating effectively with the Brazilian government.

Teixeira was at Friday's meeting called by Romario but made no statements.

"I asked for the meeting. People say all I do is slam the CBF or the LOC. I defend the Brazilian people. I came to say I don't have anything in particular against Ronaldo or Ricardo or any of the bodies," Romario said.

"(Ronaldo) will have an active and important role on the LOC council. Many people said he would just be a badge... but it won't be like that. Brazil will now be looked at differently."

His former Brazil strike partner Ronaldo said: "We'll show the people everything we want to do, transmitting a message of strength and optimism, but we want a critical Romario too."

SAO PAULO SURPRISE

Work started late on the Itaquerao, the brand new stadium being built for Sao Paolo-based Brazilian champions Corinthians, but after little more than half a year's work 20 percent of the job has been done.

"New works like the case of the Itaquerao have surprised us positively," said architect Carlos de La Corte, the LOC's technical consultant.

"It could be that the time of work on the Itaquerao and Maracana might be the same although they started at different moments."

The Maracana in Rio is being prepared for the Confederations Cup in 2013 whereas the Itaquerao will not be used for the event, which works as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup finals.

"Rio has quite a tight and difficult timetable. It's a huge challenge but we believe we'll be okay," de La Corte said.

Sources involved in the works at the various venues say privately that the Sao Paulo job is the easier of the two.

"It's a stadium that started from scratch, square, without curves, with the participation of private enterprise and a lot of effort from the local authorities," a LOC source said.

"The Maracana is a more difficult and complex project."

Refurbishing of the famous giant stadium, which will host the final, began last year but this year has twice suffered delays due to strikes by workers.

Rio Sports Secretary Marcia Lins was confident the job would be finished on time.

"The Maracana will be ready in February 2013," she said.

(Agencies)