Qantas Under 23's are relaxed and raring to go
Adelaide United midfielder Kristian Sarkies says the Qantas Under 23’s team is relaxed and has settled in well after arriving in China on Friday for the start of the final preparations before their opening match of the Olympic Games against Serbia on August 7.
Adelaide United midfielder Kristian Sarkies says the Qantas Under 23-s team is relaxed and has settled in well after arriving in China on Friday for the start of the final preparations before their opening match of the Olympic Games against Serbia on August 7.
The team plays Olympic Games host China today (Sunday) at the Changchun Olympic Stadium, in the first of three preparation games over the next two weeks.
Coach Graham Arnold gave them a light run on Friday afternoon and worked on tactical play on Saturday, ahead of this afternoon-s game.
“Yeah good,” he said, when asked how he and the team were feeling. “We-ve had our first training session yesterday just to get all the junk out of our legs from the flying.
“It-s a little bit humid, but to be honest it-s only a bit warmer than back home. We-re expecting when we travel to Japan and South Korea it will be a lot hotter, but at the moment it-s not too bad.
“Everyone-s quite relaxed. We-re just fine tuning at the moment in preparation for the next three practice matches and then the first game against Serbia.
“Everyone-s just very excited to be over here and looking forward to the games.”
Having arrived in China, albeit briefly on their Asian pre-Olympic Games tour, Sarkies doesn-t think the hype will get to the players until much closer to the start of the Games.
“We are taking everyday as it comes and we are getting closer and closer to the start of the games, so the hype is starting to build up. We got our accreditations at the airport when we checked in and I think everyone then realized that we are almost there.
“But we are only thinking about these practice matches at the moment; fine tuning what we have got to do and once we get to the village that-s when it will really hit home I think.
Sarkies, who has been with the squad from the start, believes the mood in the squad is very good, much like it has since they first started together two and a half years ago.
“I think Arnie (Arnold) sets the right mood among the team. Ever since day one it always been a relaxed team environment, where we can feel relaxed; feel comfortable and on the field, everyone knows they-ve got the business to do, which I think is a key factor within the team.
“If we go into the games with that same mentality, we-ve had the whole time, then we-ll do quite well.
As the teams dead ball specialist, Sarkies will play a key role come set piece players at corners and free kicks and with the lighter Adidas balls that will be used during the Games.
“We got to use the balls yesterday for the first time; they were a bit different to the Nike one-s we-ve been using throughout the year,” he said. “I am actually quite lucky, because I am actually looked after by Adidas and have had a few balls sent to me when I was back in Melbourne, so I got a bit of head start and a kick around with them.
“They are a bit lighter, but in saying that they move something terrible through the air and they wobble everywhere. I feel sorry for all the goalkeepers because they could be struggling a bit. It-s something I am practicing here and am looking forward to scaring some goalkeepers.”
The former Melbourne Victory Championship winner admits they know little about their opponent tomorrow, with China obviously not playing in the qualifiers and only playing friendly matches.
“We watched them train just for a little bit yesterday and they seemed to be playing a very similar formation to one we play, but I guess we-ll find out more when we play against them.”
The match against China kicks off at 5.30pm AEST.