The intensity is continuing to ramp up for the Caltex Socceroos ahead of the FIFA World Cup, with Bert van Marwijk putting his team through two field sessions on Day 5 of camp.
Every player in camp completed both sessions, with goalkeepers Mat Ryan and Brad Jones standing out in some quickfire matches centred around attack.
Defender James Meredith spoke about the morale amongst the squad who are “buzzing” in the lead-up to Russia.
DAY 4 WRAP: van Marwijk ups the ante in training
While the morning sessions over the first four days saw the players hit the gym, there was a difference on Day 5 with van Marwijk opting for two field sessions.
Team physio Les Gelis got things started, putting the players through their usual pre-habilitation before it was into a warm-up with van Marwijk’s assistant coaches Roel Coumans and Mark van Bommel.
With the squad working extremely hard on the pitch every day so far, there was nothing too onerous during the morning session.
After some light running, the players broke out into some large-scale rondo exercises around the centre-circle, with the entire squad trying to keep possession off three defenders in the middle.
As field sessions go, it was far less intense than what we have seen over the first four days, predominantly to keep the players ticking over.
But the pace certainly quickened up when the squad returned to the pitch in the afternoon.
The primary focus of this session was around competitive games, with the focus on possession, quick passing and accuracy.
“Yesterday was my first day training with the team and the day before that I came in and watched the boys,” defender Matt Jurman told www.socceroos.com.au.
WATCH OUR EXCLUSIVE CHAT WITH CALTEX SOCCEROOS DEFENDER MATT JURMAN IN THE VIDEO BELOW
“It’s really intense and a massive step up for me and everyone I think.
“Everyone is on their toes and giving everything that they have got.
“I think that’s great for us because it’s going to make everyone improve, and as a team we are going to get better as well.”
The games started out 3v3, before increasing to 4v4 all the way up to 8v8.
With the increase in players, the pitch dimensions also increased.
The games encouraged the players to attack and get shots at goal, with both Ryan and Jones in excellent form, making some stunning saves throughout the session.
The players were also urged to keep the ball moving, and play forward with speed and intensity.
If ever things broke down or needed correction, van Marwijk or van Bommel were quick to step in to offer instruction or encouragement.
“Every coach has his own style and vision on football. Bert is a very experienced coach, he’s very good,” Israel-based attacker Nikita Rukavytsya said.
“All the trainings are intense and you have to be concentrated 100%.
“[van Bommel] definitely brings his experience. He was an amazing player, he played at the top level with some of the best clubs in the world.
“He definitely brings his experience and it’s good to have him around and to learn from him.”
It’s also been a learning curve for Meredith.
The left-back, who played 48 games for Millwall in England during the recent campaign, is relishing being back on the Caltex Socceroos fold and is keen to make the most of every day.
“It’s been quite difficult but it’s good for everyone, we’re getting fit, the players are looking sharp so it’s a good build-up towards the World Cup,” Meredith said.
“I go out there and work hard, I rest when I have to, I eat well. Everyone is very professional in the Socceroos.
“It’s great but at the same time there’s a good atmosphere, there’s a good buzz about the place which I think for a team to be successful is something that you need.”
Day 6 will be another double session for the squad but there’ll also be a chance for some downtime, with the players and staff set to spend time with family and loved ones over the next few days.